COLUMN: Combustible markets a concern

A van filled with large tanks of gasoline is not unlike vehicles used in suicide bombings in other regions of the world.

An incident on Sunday involving a van full of purloined gasoline should be of great concern to fire and police departments, and citizens in general.

In this case, a van hit a pick-up truck at Scott Road and 104 Avenue, headed off and burst into flames a couple of blocks away, at 122 Street and 104 Avenue.

The incident is the first of its type for Surrey RCMP, but it is not the first such incident in the region. Two other similar crashes and explosions took place in Vancouver and Coquitlam in the past two months.

As most people know, gasoline is a highly flammable and explosive substance. Just a few litres can create a fireball, so a van filled with large tanks of gasoline, which has been stolen and is being offered for resale, is not dissimilar to the vehicles used in suicide bombings in other regions of the world.

Gasoline theft has been a problem for years, but mainly on a smaller scale. Apparently these thieves are using stolen credit cards to buy large quantities of gasoline, fill tanks hidden in vans, and then sell it to people at a discount from the pump price. Those eager to get a bargain, without thinking of the consequences of letting these people do business this way, are quick to buy.

High gas prices cause people to do a lot of strange things. Many of the initial cross-border trips taken by residents in this area come about to save money on gasoline, as the price is substantially lower in the U.S. The main factor in the price differential is taxes levied on this side of the border, with the 17-cent TransLink tax and the provincial carbon tax being the two biggest contributors to the higher prices.

I’ve often wondered why people would drive or sit in line for several hours just to get lower-priced gas, but many people time their trips so that they cross when lineups are minimal. Others make good use of their Nexus cards, which are definitely an added incentive for cross-border shopping.

But while cross-border shopping is an obvious choice for many when it comes to getting lower-priced gasoline, buying it on the black market from a van driver seems highly risky and downright dangerous. Who’s to say that there won’t be a spill or fire when the van driver is helping a local to fill up?

If gasoline theft is this prominent, and it seems that it is, people need to take precautions when they have tanks of gasoline or diesel fuel at their businesses. These are obviously targets for these type of thieves.

In addition, people with larger vehicles that have larger fuel tanks need to ensure that it is very difficult to steal gas from parked vehicles. While a locking gas cap is an obvious precaution, it isn’t always enough for sophisticated thieves, who have been known to drill into gas tanks (which also is a very hazardous behaviour) to steal fuel.

In the meantime, people who have suspicions about vans which appear to be delivering gasoline on the street or in alleys should let police know right away. They may be preventing a much worse explosion from taking place.

Frank Bucholtz is the editor of The Langley Times. He writes weekly for The Leader.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

PHOTOS: B.C. Day long weekend on White Rock beach

Hundreds of families gathered at the beach Sunday

Seeds of Change Surrey to launch two new programs

United Way of the Lower Mainland donated $77,000

White Rock RCMP to host free bicycle registration clinic

Stolen registered bicycles are easier to return to proper owner if recovered

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Fraser Valley Bandits clinch playoff spot with win

Bandits down Niagara River Lions 70-57 on Sunday, improve to 3-2

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Most Read