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Fuel theft explodes in Portugal

by Luis de Sousa Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 07:08:19 AM EST

During the last weeks disturbing news have been showing the dark side of human nature in face of these new rough times: all across the state, from north to south, littoral to interior, gasoline and diesel theft is spreading like fire. The black market is thriving with people selling diesel and gasoline for 1 €/litre.
Right: A tank like this can hold up to 1000 litres of diesel, which at today's prices is worth arround 1400 €. Photo by Getty Images.


This is a crosspost from The Oil Drum : Europe

The word spreads by mouth that someone at some obscure place has gasoline or diesel to sell at prices not seen for years. A tempting offer, when these fuels are sold for 1.5 €/litre and 1.4 €/litre respectively at filling stations. But these fuels have simply been stolen from the same people buying them: the end consumer.

The first news started to come from the north, in the city of Braga, with regular thefts from parked lorries during the night. But now reports are coming from almost everywhere, from the big city centres to the isolated interior of Portugal.

The preferred targets are lorries with tanks large enough to hold 500 to 1000 litres of fuel. During the night thieves approach and force the tank open, then run in a small tube connected to a manual pump that moves the fuel to a hand held jerrycan or similar container. When the opening offers resistance the tank is simply pierced with a pickaxe or other sharp metal tool. In this case, after the jerrycans have been filled the fuel is simple left flowing on the ground.

Beyond lorries, even regular cars and heavy machinery are being targeted by this kind of theft. Construction sites are a tempting place, where heavy cranes and diggers are usually left unguarded during the night. Many businesses are installing surveillance and alarm systems, but without major results, thieves study the place carefully to avoid cameras and using a pickaxe a tank can be emptied swiftly.

Here's a digest of what a haulier business holder told to the Diário de Notícias newspaper:


On the 24th of June when the workmen arrived for a new day they found 3 lorries that have been filled up the last night with their tanks completely empty, having been pierced with a pickaxe. They didn't even take half of the diesel, with the remainder spilled on the ground. The company lost more than 4000 € that day from fuel theft in addition to the cost of repairing 3 fuel tanks.

One month later the smell of spilt diesel still engulfs the facility. Now the lorries are guarded during the night by a man with a licence to carry and use fire arms. On the fence a sign warns: be wary of pitbull dogs.

Many thoughts come to mind reading these news pieces. Like addicts, when the fix dwindles consumers are turning on each other. Before adjusting their lifestyles or finding new arrangements to their daily lives, some consumers seem to opt for the black market, buying fuel that might have been stolen from his neighbour yesterday or from himself the next day.

Life on the slippery slope of oil depletion will likely become much more violent than what we've been used to.


For reference, some of these news in the Portuguese press:

Diário de Notícias
Correio da Manhã
Lusa

Display:
[ET Moderation Technology™] Stray <br>'s removed.

Luis, if you're going to use tables for layout inside your diary, please remember to set it to "HTML formatted", not "auto format".

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 07:19:08 AM EST
Ok, I need to put a sticker on the "write a new diary" page.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 08:56:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC - Newsbeat - The P Word - Major rise in home fuel thefts
Police forces across the UK have told Newsbeat there's been a huge rise in thieves stealing heating oil from people's homes. Farmers say there's also been a big increase in the theft of diesel. On Sunday, a woman died during a raid on her farm in County Durham after spotting a man taking fuel.

of course avoiding oil dosen't necessarily help.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Cameron's bike stolen as he shops

Conservative leader David Cameron says his bicycle was stolen after he left it locked outside a supermarket while he shopped near his home in west London.

He was at a Tesco branch on Portobello Road when the bike - which he joked was "an old friend" - disappeared.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 07:52:55 AM EST
And not only oil...

[Torygraph Alert] Allotments thefts rise as credit crisis causes vegetable crimewave (26 Jun 2008)

Allotments have been targeted by vegetable thieves, as more people grow their own produce in response to the credit crisis.

Allotments have enjoyed a boom few years, with many people seeing their gardening as a way of saving on fruit and vegetable bills.

However, it would now seem that thieves are taking advantage of this green revolution.

It's not because of the "credit crisis" but because of the "food crisis" that this happens.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 08:14:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Life on the slippery slope of oil depletion will likely become much more violent than what we've been used to.
[Luis de Sousa's Crystal Ball of Doom™ Technology]

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 08:15:46 AM EST
that Chrystal ball need new batteries, it's picking up video trailers again.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 08:38:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apart from the hilarious side of it, that movie came to my mind when I wrote the post...

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 09:00:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thought it might ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 09:10:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Philadelphia thieves are stealing iron manhole covers from roadways. This makes driving down the roads somewhat challenging, to say the least.

The city has started chaining them down, but I don't think this will be much of a deterrent. Other places have welded them in place, which does slow down maintenance.

The odd thing is that they aren't worth much and any scrap yard buying them has to know they are stolen.

Taking all the piping and electrical wiring out of foreclosed homes in the US is a rising trend as well.

Time to watch Mad Max again...

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Thu Jul 24th, 2008 at 04:07:26 PM EST
Here in Colorado Springs there is a thriving pawn shop and flea market industry that runs largely on stolen property. Two important sources of goods are the house construction industry (used tools) and the military bases in town (surplus military items). This has been going on for a long time, and at one point you could even go to the flea market and ask for specific "surplus" part, then return the following week and buy it.

A side effect of this is that the police department keeps a pretty good eye on the pawn shops and flea market dealers, and this spills over to the surplus metal market. I was at a metal store recently and asked about this, and they said that they get regular visits from the police department to remind them about the need to stay legal. The main recycling place here won't even buy copper any more.

So that brings up my question: What do you do with a stolen manhole cover or house plumbing pipes or street lamp wire? Somebody has to be the buyer. It's not like fuel that can be sold on a retail black market, because not many people are interested in manhole covers...

by asdf on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 10:36:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
situations like that you've usually got a scrap dealer lined up who's ready to crush and weigh them ahead of the aquisition. In the UK during the early 80's recession manhole theft was fairly common, as was the lead strip down the centre of Factory roofs. (I know of one case where the police caught a local ner-do-well with a roll of lead then had to wait three weeks for rain to find out whos roof it was missing from so they could charge him.)

One scrap dealer came up with the best plan. he got the contract for installing a selection of new streetlamps, and cut four feet from the bottom of them leaving only 6 inches  in the groud rather than the usual several feet to anchor against the elements, which was fine, till the first high wind. He might have got away with it if he hadn't been greedy and left the tubes standing in his yard for the metal price to go up.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 10:44:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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