Two owners of an upstate New York farm who spent more than $5,400 to stock up on enough fuel to last them through the summer said thieves made off with 800 gallons of diesel last week.
Tim Lloyd and Cindy Bonnaci of Lloyd Crest farm in Hebron told the Times Union of Albany they noticed that two of their fuel tanks were empty when they tried to fill up a tractor.
The farmers had just spent $5,400 to buy 1,050 gallons of diesel fuel to take them through the summer. They paid $5.19 per gallon, $1 below the state average of $6.19 for diesel, which contains more fuel than regular gasoline.
The pilfered petrol cost the couple $4,100.
The price of diesel is nearly double the $3.33 a gallon it cost last year, according to AAA. Nationwide, a gallon of diesel fuel costs on average $5.76.
Fuel prices have soared across the board in recent months as supply chain disruptions, rising demand, and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine have put a squeeze on the market.
Bonnaci told the Times Union that the theft was likely motivated by the steep price hike, which is proving too much to overcome for people who rely on diesel fuel.
Diesel fuel is used for engines in trucks, trains, boats, public and school buses, and barges. It can also be used in place of heating oil in furnaces.
Washington County is an enclave of upstate New York that hugs the border with Vermont.washingtoncountyny.gov
Bonnaci said that while she understands the desperation felt by some over the soaring fuel prices, her small farm near Saratoga Springs is quite vulnerable as well.
“It’s sad. You hear of so many small farmers going out of business,” she said.
“We’re a small farm and we want to stay in business — our son would be the fifth generation.”
Bonnaci said the stolen fuel, which was bought specifically for farming equipment, was dyed red in order to differentiate it from fuel that can be used for diesel-fueled vehicles.
The soaring cost of fuel has put pressure on small farmers who rely on diesel to power their tractors.washingtoncountyny.gov
That would make it easier for investigators at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to pinpoint a suspect if the gas is in a regular truck.
The Post has sought comment from the WCSO.
Bonnaci believes that whoever stole the fuel used it to fill up their truck repeatedly.
“If you think about some trucks, they have 100- to 150-gallon tanks in the back. You make several trips in the middle of the night …,” she said.
She said the farm will have to build a structure around their fuel tanks in order to prevent further theft.
“We’re going to have to build a building around it, which will be another cost. Build another building and lock it,” she said.