With the rise in fuel prices at the pump since March, fuel thefts have resumed in the department. Easily accessible, diesel tanks on farms are prime targets.
The surge in the price of hydrocarbons at the pump is not without consequences with the upsurge in fuel thefts, mainly from farms and transport companies in the Tarn-et-Garonne.
Three days ago, a farmer from Laguépie paid the price for the third time since the beginning of the year, his diesel tank with a capacity of 1000 liters was emptied. Ditto for a transport company in Montbeton where individuals equipped with vans with a system of cans pumping directly into the tanks, siphoned once again the seven heavy goods vehicles of the company. With a diesel price flirting with 2 euros per liter, the losses due to these depredations amount to several thousand euros.
“Farmers and business leaders must file complaints”
“Since the beginning of March, there has been an increase in this type of theft with thirteen complaints recorded, including six just from farmers”, confirms the deputy officer in charge of the judicial police (OAPJ) at the gendarmerie group, Commander Thierry Vincent next closely this phenomenon like that of the thefts of precious metals also on the rise. “This figure however, regrets Colonel Stéphane Authier, boss of the 400 gendarmes of the department, is not representative of all of these thefts.”
Too often, farmers and business leaders, for lack of time, do not immediately report these fuel thefts, or even file a complaint. “It is difficult to fight against this delinquency if the complaints do not go up, insists Colonel Authier. Without that, we cannot direct our presence to the right place and prosecute the perpetrators.”
Exchanges of information with the Chamber of Agriculture
Among the advice given by the gendarmes to farmers too often leaving their diesel tank in sight in open sheds, complicate the task of thieves “by modifying the electrical supply system for lighting the tanks to make it more difficult to siphoning operation”, explains cdt Vincent.
To the agricultural referent in each gendarmerie brigade relaying information on vehicles prowling near farms, there are also exchanges with the Tarn-et-Garonne Chamber of Agriculture “to send them pre-alerts as when there are there has been an upsurge in GPS thefts on agricultural machinery in neighboring departments”, confirms Colonel Authier.
“The Chamber also sends us information, which allows us to organize surveillance, even hideouts to arrest the perpetrators”. Painstaking work that has not yet allowed investigators to confuse these teams of fuel thieves, nor to know how these thousands of stolen liters are sold on a parallel market…
Burglaries down 16% since the start of the year
While fuel thefts, particularly from farms and transport companies, have increased significantly in the Tarn-et-Garonne since the explosion in the price of hydrocarbons at the pump, break-ins into main and secondary residences have lowered, in the gendarmerie zone. “In the first quarter of the year, indicates Commander Thierry Vincent, we observe a drop of 16% (119 facts against 142 in 2021). A trend which is also maintained over the three weeks of April”.
“Good results, very satisfactory for 2022”, specifies Colonel Stéphane Authier when comparing these figures with 2021 and 2020, “periods marked by confinements and curfews when the figures for burglaries had already dropped significantly”.
A success which is explained for the boss of the gendarmerie group by both a “greater presence of gendarmes on the ground in order to dissuade offenders from taking action”, and also the digitization of the working tools of the military. which allows them to be more on the ground. “They can record violations and even take complaints with their mobile phone.”