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

"Before, we've never kept them locked," said Schoepf, who is able to 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."
It's a crime that happens during the dark of night when no one is around, especially in rural areas. Thieves use siphon hoses and pumps that are sometimes built into vans that roam fields at night to steal diesel fuel. With prices continuing to escalate, theft will likely increase.

"With the high price of fuel, people are using every gimmick they can to steal it,"  says Stephen Tolton, chief executive officer, PetroCard, Kent, Wash. He says the frequency of fuel theft has jumped and people are getting much more brazen. Diesel fuel thefts often go unnoticed. By the time the theft is discovered, thieves are long gone and chances of apprehending them are slim.

Producers are taking measures to prevent the thefts. Locking fuel caps, anti-siphoning devices, fencing and tank-anchoring devices to prevent removal of 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 said.

Sources: Houston and Texas News, California Farm Bureau Federation