Caution Needed When Fueling Cars Out of State

AAA Mid-Atlantic Provides Tips to Avoid Becoming Victimized by Distraction Thefts When Traveling Out of State

Hamilton, N. J. – A new type of theft is hitting gas stations in neighboring states when motorists stop to fuel their cars. Criminals, dubbed sliders, are pulling next to a car while it’s being fueled, sneakily opening the passenger-side door and stealing purses that lay unattended on the car seat, then hastily taking off.  

While ‘Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas,’ AAA Mid-Atlantic wants to remind motorists how stay safe at the pumps and avoid being victimized especially when traveling out of state for last minute vacations. Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC, have reported a rash of ‘slider thefts’ in recent weeks. 

“With this type of crime, people need to be vigilant as to where they leave their belongings,” says Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “Leaving your purse unattended just isn’t a smart thing to do especially since these thefts happen in a matter of seconds.”

“Recently, there has been increased media coverage across the country regarding theft at gas stations,” warns the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC).  “The unique setting allows thieves to catch their victims by complete surprise — when they are pumping gas or purchasing something inside the station.”

“They are not just thieves in the night. In some situations, these criminals are pulling the caper in broad daylight too. Some of the outlaws using this scam have been caught on security cameras at gas stations across the country and the region,” Noble states. “Unfortunately, some of these criminals consider women and their purses the perfect marks,” Noble observes. “The lawbreakers wait and watch for women to pull up to the gas pump unaware and then exploit them. Therefore, it important for women to never leave their purses unattended and to keep their vehicle's ignition keys with them while gassing up.”

The crooks will also try to carjack your car, the auto club spokeswoman notes. A favorite quarry of the underhanded thieves is oblivious SUV owners. These vehicles are large enough to offer the bandits a covering during their crime, explains AAA Mid-Atlantic. Seeking to remain barely visible, the crooks lurk in the blind-spots of the SUV while the potential victim's attention is diverted.

            To safeguard customers at gas stations from falling prey to the distraction theft crime spree, AAA Mid-Atlantic provides the following proactive tips:

  • Don't become a victim during fill-ups. Try to avoid gas stations in isolated areas.
  • Make your personal safety a top priority.
  • Turn off the engine every time and never leave your vehicle unattended.
  • Refuel your tank in view of the filling station attendant.
  • Always stop and shop at the best-lit, best-attended gas station in the area.
  • Stay alert and always be aware of the people around and your immediate surroundings.
  • Never leave your keys in the ignition while filling your vehicle with fuel.
  • Lock your vehicle before purchasing gasoline.
  • Never leave a purse on the seat or personal belongings in plain view while refueling.
  • Place anything of value in your trunk, but watch who might be watching you.
  • Keep your windows rolled up or lock out all window controls while filling your tank.
    If you spot any suspicious activity, report it to the gas station operator or police.
  • Install an intrusion alarm or a kill-switch to protect your vehicle from being stolen.
  • If you sense danger and you have a panic button on your car keys, keep your hands on the panic button until help arrives.