As gas prices hit record highs, gas theft is on the rise. Across the country, thieves are stealing gas by stealing it from the pumps or physically taking it from the gas tanks of other people’s cars.
While many gas thieves are motivated by desperation, for some it’s about stickin’ it to the man. They’re stealing gas from gas stations, “Big Oil”, in order to sell it to consumers at a discount or even for free. (The sad truth is that the small business owners of gas stations are the ones who are left covering the cost and it could potentially destroy their businesses.)
Everyone’s being hit hard by the spike in prices, some of us harder than others. Has fuel been stolen from your gas tank? Do you know someone desperate enough to consider stealing gas?
You don’t have to. There are ways to get free gas (or free gas money) without breaking the law. If you want to read a little bit more about how fuel thefts are happening, keep reading. Or you can scroll down to our list of 10 legit ways you can get free gas for your vehicle.
How is Gasoline Stolen?
Gasoline theft can occur when thieves steal gas from the pipelines, the gas station, or directly from your vehicle.
When stealing gas from your car, thieves use a special device to siphon the gas from your tank or drilling a hole into your gas tank.
Damage to a gas tank, if it needs to be replaced, far exceeds the value of the gas in the tank for most drivers. It can cost around a thousand dollars or more to replace.
Is Fuel Theft Common?
Sadly, fuel theft is becoming a common occurrence. Since gasoline has been on the market, people have been stealing it.
Well before the skyrocketing gas prices in 2022, fuel theft was big business with annual losses topping $2 billion. 2022 will surely be the worst year yet.
Gas station drive-offs and gas theft from passenger cars increases when gas prices rise. And with prices at an all-time high, so is stealing fuel. Many otherwise law-abiding thieves are driven by desperation, unable to pay $100 to $200 to fill up their tank.
How Can You Tell if Someone is Stealing Gas From Your Car?
There are a few ways you can check if someone is has stolen gas from you car:
- The gas level is lower. Keep track of your gas levels from when you park to when you start the time again.
- There are scratches or visible damage to your gas cap.
- There’s damage to your gas tank. If a hole has been drilled steal gas, this will become quickly apparent.
Protect your vehicles from fuel theft.
- Park you car in a locked garage or garage with surveillance whenever possible.
- Avoid leaving your car parked in the same spot for an extended period of time (i.e. more than 24 hours).
- Buy a locking fuel cap. If you don’t have a working fuel cap, you can buy one for under $20.
- When parking outdoors, park in a high-traffic, visible area (i.e. buy a business door). Make sure your fuel cap side of the vehicle is facing traffic.
If you’re a store manager or owner, tamper tape can be used to prevent credit card skimming at gas pumps.
And if you witness (suspected) gas theft, drivers and gas station workers alike, call the police.
What Will Happen If You Steal Gas?
Stealing gas is a crime in all 50 states. In some states, the stolen fuel is considered petty theft (if the amount of fuel stolen is under $400). But stilling gas can be considered grand theft, a felony, or a misdemeanor. It depends on where you live, the value of what was stolen, and other facts like if there was other property destroyed.
The punishment for stealing gas can include criminal fines, community service, jail time, or any and all of the above.
5 Legit Ways to Get Free Gas or Free Money for Gas
Luckily, there are 5 legit ways to get free gas, or free gas money, without having to result to drastic measures.
1 | Talk to Your Employer
It costs them nothing to say no. Ask your supervisor. Ask someone in HR. Ask them both separately. Let them know you’re struggling with gas money. Ask if they can help by providing you with free gas cards to ease the high costs until the prices fall.
In some instances, an HR rep may say no because there is not a company-wide policy. But a supervisor may be more sympathetic and inclined to offer support if they are able to.
2 | Find an Online Side Hustle
Plenty of consumers are getting an inflation side hustle to combat the spike in costs. A side hustle doesn’t have to mean delivering meals or walking dogs – but those are totally doable. There are side hustles you can do directly from your phone without ever having to get dressed.
For example, Swagbucks will pay you cash and free gift cards (to gas stations and more) for playing trivia, taking online surveys, playing games, and more. You can earn money from your phone while you’re watching TV. Earn a few cents here, a couple dollars there. It all adds up. Earning $50 to $200 a month with Swagbucks is realistic and fairly easy.
3 | Get Free Gas Vouchers
There are a number of government and non-profit programs that offer free gas vouchers to individuals in need. Some programs may have income requirements.
Hare are some programs offering free gas vouchers to check out:
- Salvation Army: You may need to provide proof of household expenses (bills) and pay stubs. They can even provide regular support if they have enough resources. Even if you are granted monthly vouchers, there are some months when one may not be available.
- Non-Emergency Transportation (N.E.T.): Recipients of Medicaid or other assistance programs may qualify for free gas vouchers. The application period can take several weeks and include an interview. From date of application to receipt of your first gas voucher, it may take up to 3 months. The plan can offer reimbursement for fuel expenses though.
- HelpForGas.com: This programs has no income requirements. You must have a stated need, be willing to display a metal placard on your car, and drive a minimum 1,000 miles each month. Depending on the ad you display, you can earn $17 to $80 a month.
- Catholic Charities: This religious nonprofit has over 3,600 locations across the United States. Contact a local chapter. If they do not have an available gas card or voucher, ask if they can connect you with another nonprofit.
- United Way (2-1-1): Call 211 and ask for assistance from the United Way. The nonprofit is dedicated to providing assistance to individuals and families in need. If they do no have an available gas voucher, they can connect you with an organization that can help.
4 | Take Surveys for Free Gas Cards – Get a Free Gallon of Gas When You Sign Up for InboxDollars
Survey site InboxDollars will pay you cash, PayPal, or free gift cards for taking online surveys. Get $5 free for signing up, and cash out once you reach at least $15. Depending on what you pay at your local pump, that’s like getting a free gallon of gas!
Minnesota based InboxDollars has paid over $80 million in gift cards and cash rewards to members since 2000. Get the app in iTunes or Google Play, or sign up at InboxDollars.com.
Get your $5 free now – sign up for InboxDollars!
5 | Save Those Grocery Receipts
Those grocery store and pharmacy receipts are cash waiting to happen.
You may have heard of shopping apps like Ibotta or Fetch Rewards: they pay you for purchasing specific featured items.
Tada will pay you for purchasing specific featured items (i.e. 64 oz. bottle of Tide Clear), or just for making any purchase of any product period. Earn cash for:
- Scanning your receipt. (Just take a pic and submit.)
- Purchasing items (ANY item) from a specific category, like bread, milk, chicken, or apples.
- Purchasing gas. Earn $1 a week for purchasing gas at a featured gas station (from a network of thousands of locations, including all major chains).
Other Ways to Stretch Your Gas Dollar Further
You can make every gas card or gas dollar stretch a little farther, too, if you’re smart about your purchase at the pump.
Use Fuel Rewards Programs
Fuel reward programs are another great way to save money on gas. While it’s not the same as getting free gift cards or vouchers to fill up 10 gallons of gas, every cent you can save helps.
- Join reward programs at your local gas station.
Join reward programs at your local grocery store. Many chains, like Kroger or SuperValu, offer gas saver rewards.
- Sign up for fuel reward apps. Check out apps that monitor diesel and gas prices and connect with with coupon type deals.
Use GPS Devices – Even When You Know the Route
I always use my GPS device, whether I’m driving to the gas pump or to a far-distant location I’ve never been before. Specifically, I like Google Maps but there are plenty of other good ones. This way, I can always be directed towards the fastest, clearest route. I avoid construction, traffic jams, and any scenarios where I have to break and go since that’s hard on gas mileage (and on my patience).
Find Your Inner Zen Behind the Wheel
Relax behind the wheel. Fueled by an earlier article I researched on saving money on gas, I changed my driving habits and improved my gas mileage by well over 20%.
I knew maintaining a consistent speed was better for gas mileage, but I didn’t realize to what extent.
Before: I would typically drive as fast over the speed limit as I reasonably could (up to 8 mph over) without getting a ticket. I’d left-pass slow moving cars. My goal was to get there as quickly as I could, without getting a ticket or getting in an accident.
Now: My goal is to avoid using the break. My goal is to drive at a steady speed without having to slow down and speed up. I can drive 30 miles across town, on freeways, and never tap the break once. I am more observant of traffic ahead of me, and slow down well before I need to hit the breaks. I change lanes to let in oncoming traffic and keep my speed consistent.
And I use cruise control as much as possible — if I know I am going to be maintaining the same speed for at least 30 seconds, I flip it on. The average driver varies their speed by as much as 15 miles per hour every 9 seconds. With cruise control, I’m maintaining a much more constant speed.
Final Two-Cents on Saving Money at the Gas Station
It’s hard to fill up your minivan or pickup truck these days. But there is help. With free gas vouchers, easy side hustles, and apps to save money at the pumps, filling up your pump can be a little less painful.
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