Hot Oil Heists

Grab the crude and run

The galloping cost of oil has spawned a new breed of rustlers on the American prairies. Instead of roping longhorns, they steal crude oil—right from the production fields. Driving tanker trucks capable of carrying up to 200 bbl. of crude, these so-called hot oilers simply pull up to remote storage facilities, drain the contents into their vehicles, then skedaddle with their liquid loot.

No one knows precisely how much fuel is pilfered this way, but the amount is substantial. One petroleum executive estimates that as much as 3% of...

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