As the price of oil continues to rise the pain at the pump continues to worsen. Diesel prices as a result have increased from around $1.20 per litre to $1.80 per litre in just the past year, on average between 20 and 30 cents per litre dearer than unleaded fuel. A ridiculous state of affairs but this is Australia and the ridiculous is becoming more commonplace on a daily basis.
The exorbitant price of diesel is having an expected knock-on affect with reports that 'diesel rustling' is becoming quite a popular pass time on country properties and forestry work sites.
Striking under the cover of darkness this new breed of thief drains diesel storage tanks and the fuel tanks of heavy equipment left unsupervised. One recent haul on a Northern NSW property saw the thieves make off with 500 litres of diesel liquid gold from a bulldozer.
"They came in at night with an electric fuel pump and a couple of tanks in their car," he said. They emptied the bulldozer of 500 litres of fuel, which would be worth almost $1000. Then they came back a week later and emptied the tractor, but luckily there was only about 100 litres in the tank at the time so they didn't get much," said Sam Barwick owner of a mixed grain, cattle and crop farm in northern NSW.
The Forestry Industry is also affected. The size of the heavy equipment that they use means it is often left out in the forests overnight and that is when the diesel hustlers are striking. Recent experiments with surveillance cameras has proved unsuccessful in deterring the thieves.
"The thieves are mainly targeting harvesting equipment that is too big to be moved and has to be left parked in the forest overnight. We have had a bit of a spate recently. I would say there has been a noticeable increase in the last six months since fuel prices have shot up," said Michael Bleeby of Forestry South Australia
Diesel fuel theft is not unique to Australia with reports from overseas suggesting that 'gangs' of diesel thieves have been targeting farms and properties in Britain and the U.S. as the price of fuel skyrockets.
What will happen when diesel reaches $2.00 a litre? Will gangs of thieves begin to target fuel tankers? Will pirates raid Supertankers on the open ocean?
Will Mel Gibson have to don the leathers and fire up the Interceptor one last time?
I am the Road Warrior!