With diesel fuel prices skyrocketing, more producers are protecting their supplies with padlocks. As the prices approached $5 per gallon, West Texas farmer Mark Schoepf decided to protect his investment. The Lorenzo resident recently bought 10 padlocks to affix to the fuel tanks on his operation.

“We’ve never kept them locked,” says Schoepf, who can store up to 5,000 gallons to fuel his farming operations east of Lubbock. “With diesel prices that high, somebody’s going to try to get it.”

Thieves use siphon hoses and pumps that are sometimes built into vans that roam fields at night to steal diesel fuel. Of course, there’s no geographic limitation to these types of thefts.

Stephen Tolton, chief executive officer, PetroCard, Kent, Wash., says the frequency of fuel theft has jumped and people are getting much more brazen. What’s more, diesel fuel thefts often go unnoticed. By the time the loss is discovered, thieves are long gone and chances of apprehending them are slim.

Locking fuel caps, anti-siphoning devices, fencing and tank-anchoring devices to prevent thieves from removing the entire tank are some ways people are fighting the increasing problem. Danielle Rau, California Farm Bureau Federation director of rural crime prevention, recommends that farmers and ranchers implement additional security measures and report all crimes and suspicious activity. “Thieves are looking for quick and easy access, so the more you do to diminish those qualities, the less attractive target you become,” she says.