A woman who had her car drained of diesel said the theft cost over $1000, three weeks without a car and a full tank of fuel.
Rotorua woman Helen Weblin had been on a day tramping near Taupo when she returned to her SUV-style car and was met with the smell of diesel.
“We got to the car and it was still spilling out diesel next to Waihaha river,” Weblin said.
“I couldn’t plug up the hole so I drove to Taupo with it spilling on the road. I just made it to the first garage.”
The Hyundai Santa Fei sat in Taupo for three weeks until a replacement tank arrived and it cost well over $1000 which was covered by Weblin’s insurance.
“It was expensive and time-consuming. I now own an electric car,” Weblin said.
Weblin said the choice to go electric was based on many factors including environmental benefits and cost.
“It’s an added bonus that I can park at the start of a tramp and know my fuel won’t get stolen or end up in a river.”
Weblin shared her story after another motorist revealed they had their tank drilled and drained when parked at Wilson Parking in Albany recently.
The customer parked at Wilson Parking Albany said there was no CCTV of the incident.
And the parking giant revealed that similar thefts are on the rise.
Wilson Parking had beefed up security after several similar theft from their other car parks around Auckland.
The company is increasing CCTV use and facial recognition technology after “several instances” where people have had holes drilled in their cars’ fuel tanks and drained of petrol when parked.
“We are aware of several instances of fuel theft in our car parks, reflecting a broader uptick in crime over the past 18 months,” a Wilson spokesman said.
“We deeply regret any inconvenience caused to our customers and have proactively implemented robust security measures in response.”
The parking giant had increased CCTV use, facial recognition technology, physical and virtual patrols of sites, and prominent signage.
“We’ve also installed large screens at car park entrances for added monitoring visibility, conducted a security audit, and dedicated resources to work closely with the Police.”
Workshop owner Gareth Heeps at Torbay Service Station said there had been an increase in the number of drill and drain thefts.
He had repaired a number of cars recently and had spoken to other workshop owners who had also replaced gas tanks after petrol thefts.
The repairs can be costly depending on the type of car and if parts are available.
Heeps said 4WD and SUV vehicles were more vulnerable as it was easier to get under them and drill out the tanks.
“Unfortunately there isn’t a lot that can be done to prevent this from happening aside from having the car parked somewhere secure.”
Depending on insurance, the theft of petrol and replacement tanks was often covered. It was still costly for the victim of the theft because of the cost of excess and time without the vehicle.
Beau Paparoa from AA Insurance urged motorists who suspected their petrol tank of being tampered with to contact their insurer for and assessment.
The AA recommends people park their cars in secure parking when possible.
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