Soaring diesel fuel prices have led to a rash of thefts of diesel fuel being siphoned from truckers’ tanks while they’re parked for the night at truck stops nationwide.
Now, it seems thieves are turning their attention to another way to prey on already strapped truckers – this time by stealing the aluminum covers off of their auxiliary power units and selling them as scrap metal.
OOIDA Life Member Gery Nelson of Grovespring, MO, said it happened to him while he was parked for the night on Monday, Aug. 25, at the Flying J at Exit 37 in El Paso, TX.
Besides talking to a manager at the Flying J about what happened to him, Nelson said he also filed a report with the El Paso Police Department.
“The Police Department’s response was ‘well, things are pretty busy out in that area,’ ” Nelson said. “So, I figured when he filed the sheet of paper, that’s as far as it will ever go, unless they actually stumble on to someone that’s in the process of actually doing it.”
While delivering his load in El Paso, Nelson said, he passed by a group of people that had a 28-foot trailer set up in a parking lot. They were offering to buy aluminum cans, scrap copper and scrap metal for about 72 cents per pound.
“So I figure the person who stole it probably made about $14 or $15 off of my $400 cover,” Nelson said. “What’s sad is I think there’s going to be more and more of this happen as the economy keeps getting worse.”
This weekend, Nelson said, he plans to head back to Missouri where he and his friend, who also lost an APU cover to thieves recently, plan to “put their heads together.” They are going to try to come up with some type of simple mechanism that will keep thieves from just running off with the aluminum covers.
“If thieves want them real bad, they’ll get them, but if we make it a little harder for them, it might make them think about how much effort they’re willing to put in to get them off our trucks,” he said.
His friend has offered to let him use a spare cover until he can have one fabricated locally, which he estimates may save him around $200.
Another trucker Nelson spoke to recently reported that the battery box on his Kenworth had been stolen while he was parked for the night. The battery box forms part of the step and Nelson said this trucker found out the hard way that it had been stolen after he almost broke his neck when he stepped out the next morning.
“If people know that this is getting to be a problem, at least they’ve been warned to start taking measures to hang on to their covers or spend $400 for another one,” he said.
– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer