Amid shortage in the UK, thieves drill holes in cars to steal fuel

(Planet Today) Fuel shortages in the U.K. have prompted many to rush to gas stations to fill their vehicle tanks to the brim. The shortages come amid panic-buying by Britons and a dearth of truck drivers to deliver fuel to gas stations. However, some criminals have resorted to drilling holes in the fuel tanks of parked vehicles to obtain much-needed fuel.

Two vehicles in the English city of Birmingham have fallen prey to these fuel thieves. One of the victims, Shadrack Olaloko, takes to social media to describe what happened to his car. “What these guys did was they came and drained out all my fuel in the tank,” he says. According to Olaloko, he takes his car’s safety seriously through practices such as locking it when he leaves.

(Article by Ramon Tomey republished from

In a video, he shows how the thieves forced his car’s fuel tank cap open through the hatch in the side of his car. He then explains that the criminals went underneath and drilled the fuel tank to obtain the diesel.

“They made a hole in my tank. Can you see? They made a hole and drained out all the diesel – a full tank. They drained everything out and then they left,” Olaloko remarks. He also notes that the van parked next to his car has also suffered the same fate, as evidenced by the pools of fuel on the ground.

The mad frenzy for fuel appears to have been triggered by fuel companies announcing delivery restrictions and closing some service stations due to the lack of truck drivers delivering fuel. Britons have rushed to gas stations to fill up their cars as a result, with long lines of cars at gas stations that still have fuel stocks.

According to the Petrol Retailers Association, 90 percent of its member gas stations have their fuel stocks running dry. Meanwhile, motoring goods company Halfords reports that sales of jerry cans for fuel have spiked by 1,656 percent. Thus, some gas stations themselves have implemented measures to prevent people from hoarding fuel. The EG Group, which operates 400 service stations, has imposed a fuel purchase limit of 30 pounds (US$40) on every driver.

Boris Johnson mulls tapping the military to help address fuel shortage

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering the deployment of the British Army to help address the fuel shortages. Johnson’s plan, dubbed Operation Escalin, involves hundreds of service members being called in to ship fuel to gas stations with empty reservoirs. However, the plan is not without its issues.

News Chant reports that Operation Escalin will take up to three weeks to implement. Furthermore, it adds that soldiers needed for the plan could already be on different deployments and some others might be reservists. However, Environment Secretary George Eustice says there are “no plans at the moment” to mobilize military personnel toward driving fuel trucks.

Meanwhile, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng remarks: “While there has always been, and continues to be, plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals – we are aware that there have been some issues with supply chains.” The official nevertheless reassures that fuel supply will continue unimpeded. “We have long-standing contingency plans in place to work with industry so that fuel supplies can be maintained and deliveries can still be made in the event of a serious disruption,” Kwarteng says.

Aside from Operation Escalin, Downing Street has also announced the issuance of 5,000 short-term visas for truck drivers valid for three months. Business groups in the U.K. however criticize the move as “insufficient,” The Glasgow Times reports.

Ruby McGregor-Smith, president of the British Chamber of Commerce, compares the move to “throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire.” She says that “even if these short-term opportunities attract the maximum amount of people allowed under the scheme, it will not be enough to address the scale of the problem that has now developed in our supply chains.”

British Retail Consortium Food and Sustainability Director Andrew Opie agrees with Smith’s thoughts. He says the limit of 5,000 short-term truck driver visas would do little to alleviate the current shortfall, and has called for visas to be extended to all sectors of the retail industry. has more articles about the effects of fuel supply shortages.

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