WARNING: Petrol theft on the rise
Rising fuel prices has led to an increase in petrol theft by professional gangs, Moneywise has learned.
This has been further exacerbated by cuts to streetlights funding by local councils.
While the AA says only a minority of cases are reported each year, it admits this problem is likely to get worse.
Andrea Wilson, 29, from Fareham parked her car in a residents' car park in north London during the night after filling it with £15 of petrol in the day. Next morning the petrol tank was empty and when she tried refilling it at the garage the oil immediately gushed out on the floor.
It turned out the tube connecting the petrol tank to the cap had been slit with a knife and the petrol stolen over night.
She says: "The slit was tiny and there was no petrol anywhere on the floor and the car had not been tampered with at all. They've taken about £15 worth of petrol and it will cost me £100 to replace the tube including a lot of hassle."
According to the mechanic who checked the car, stealing petrol in this way is on the rise and he's seen an increase of similar cases.
Petrol theft becoming more common
Andrew Howard, head of road safety for the AA, admits it's not uncommon to see a situation like this but stresses there are usually only around 30 cases a year reported.
He says it's usually small-time thieves who operate in this way as it's a dangerous process getting under the car to slit the tubes and collect the petrol and you need to have the muscle to carry it somewhere once it's stolen.
"The public need to carry on following the general rules of road safety and keeping their cars either in a garage or somewhere very public where thieves are likely to be noticed. Well lit street areas are ideal, but with local councils cutting funding for this, the problem could get worse" he adds.
The average price of a litre is now 128.6p, up from 126.21p on 4 January and it now costs more than £70 to fill a 55-litre tank.
If you or anyone you know has had petrol stolen, please get in touch.