Fuel theft leads to demand for locking gas caps

By Richard Snowden

As high gas prices continue throughout the country, fuel theft has become a concern for some, evidenced by a recent upswing in sales of locking gas caps, which prevent fuel theft.

Tim King, owner of NAPA Auto Parts stores at 607 E. Lincoln Highway and in Mendota, said locking gas caps have been selling rapidly at his stores.

“The demand [for locking gas caps] is definitely greater than the supply right now,” King said. “There’s certainly been an increase in sales at this store. We’ve even tried to back-order locking caps recently only to find our supplier has run out.”

King said he believes the upsurge in sales of locking gas caps, which cost $12 to $30 and up at his stores, is being driven by high gas prices.

“When you see news stories about gas being $5 per gallon, it’s no surprise that locking caps are selling like they are,” King said.

Steve Krafft, manager of CarQuest Auto Parts in Sycamore, said locking gas caps have also sold well at his store, although demand seems to have tapered off recently.

“There has been an increase in demand for locking gas caps,” Krafft said. “This week I don’t think anyone’s bought one, but last week, with [gas] prices peaking, we definitely sold some.”

Locking gas caps sell for $15 to $20 on average at CarQuest, Krafft said.

For some car owners, locking gas caps are unnecessary due to the presence of locking fuel doors, which are standard features on many late-model automobiles.

Mike Percudani, service adviser at Sycamore Ford Mazda Hyundai, said it is rare for people with locking fuel doors to have gas siphoned from their cars.

“We don’t see very many [locking fuel doors] that get successfully opened,” Percudani said. “I could count on my hand how many I’ve heard about in the last 10 years.”

Despite the recent increase in demand for locking gas caps, the DeKalb area has not seen a corresponding upsurge in reports of fuel theft, said DeKalb Police Lt. Jim Kayes.

Kayes said fuel theft involving personal automobiles is an uncommon occurrence.

“It’s very rare that people siphon gas anymore,” Kayes said. “It’s much easier to just go to a gas station, fire up a pump and take off.”

While the increase in locking gas cap sales indicates some people are worried about being victimized by gas thieves, others are not concerned about such a possibility.

Cristina Gonzales, a junior elementary education major, said although some of her friends have had their fuel tanks tampered with in the past, the prospect of having fuel stolen from her car is not a concern.

“I’ve never worried about [fuel theft] myself,” Gonzales said.

Evy Smith, office manager of the NIU Speech and Hearing Clinic, said her car is very safe from potential fuel thieves.

“I have a totally secure gas tank,” Smith said. “No one can get into it without a key.”