Attempted propane tank theft - or not?

Anthony Hitchings

Super Active Member
Silver Supporting Member
Mar 2, 2019
3,948
Oakland, California
we just finished a 19 day trip, on the trailer tongue the propane tank was secured down with two J-bolts, the spare gas tank was strapped down, and a bike lock cable with a Masterlock padlock tied it all together.

So now, at home, I went outside to remove the J-bolts and weigh the propane tank.

One J-bolt absent - gone.
The other one missing its nut.

There is no way that the missing J-bolt could rattle its way out of the tongue mounting hole. I tested this with the remaining J-bolt.

Now we did park the camper unattended at several locations in transit, in order to do side trips.

My guess is that one of those unattended times is when the attempted - and failed - theft occurred.

And so we drove home with our propane tank sitting on the tongue, stable enough so as to stay put. But not what we intended!

BTW - in our small Ainer in this fall trip we used an average of 0.81 Lbs of propane per night camping. Mostly for heat, some for cooking. The frig is our Engel electric cooler.

UPDATE: while the J-bolt could not escape through the tongue frame "L" framing member hole below the tank, it might have jumped up and out - so maybe it was the washboard road into and out of Owl Canyon campground what shook things loose. When I get my new J-bolts I will try to dril the threaded ends to take a cotter pin below the wingnut, to stop them loosening too far. What I need to do is grind a flat spot on the threads, in order to start the drill bit.
 
Last edited:

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,936
Albuquerque, NM
We have locking cables though the handles of the LP tanks, as well as around both battery boxes. The cable for the LP tanks ties into one of the battery cables, we use Python cables for those, as well as for the EMS. Won't stop a determined thief, but the opportunist will be slowed down considerably.
While we don't seem to have many issues right in our neighborhood, Albuquerque has a huge crime issue, so we wanted to secure things such as the LP tanks and batteries at home and away. They also help us to remember to make sure things are secured as they should be.
 

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,870
Northern Virginia
Never had a problem with my j hooks and it would take someone a very long time to even unscrew mine. With that said I find my J hooks fit some propane tanks better than others. One of my tanks isn't going anywhere the other does more wiggling and I can't tighten anymore or it doesn't fit.
 

Lug_Nut

Active Member
May 29, 2016
309
Mt. Wachusett area, MA
we just finished a 19 day trip, on the trailer tongue the propane tank was secured down with two J-bolts, the spare gas tank was strapped down, and a bike lock cable with a Masterlock padlock tied it all together.

When I get my new J-bolts I will try to drill the threaded ends to take a cotter pin below the wingnut, to stop them loosening too far.
The propane tank was the target, not the gasoline tank? Was the cable lock for the gasoline only, and the propane was not cable-locked?
If the propane was locked, were there any signs of the lock being opened or the cable being cut?
Thieves are searching for low risk, high reward opportunities. The risk of getting caught is a main consideration so speed of execution is critical.
So they took the time to remove the two wing nuts on the J hooks, completely ignoring the cable and lock securing it, and only then gave up that far into their caper to not unscrew the hose connection and sprint off with the propane tank? and left the gasoline tank?
Jiggling the remaining J hook a dozen times is hardly representative of the tens of thousands, random amplitude jumps and jolts it would be subject to on the trip home.

Mr. Occam is of the opinion that the hand-tightened wing nuts were not tightened enough.
Buffalo Springfield, as well
There's something happening here
But what it is ain't exactly clear
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life, it will creep
 
Last edited:

PopUpSteve

Administrator
Staff member
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 22, 2002
21,293
Southeastern PA
It's sad the times we live in where criminals are emboldened because, in many locations, the risks are not as great as in the past for them. Camper are not that secure, and popup campers are just one step above leaving all your stuff at the curb with a "FREE" sign. The good people, like the members here, have to up their game, being even more vigilant of the property and person.
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,936
Albuquerque, NM
As Lug_Nut states, there is always the possibility that the nuts loosened on their own. When we had the j-hooks, we had extra nuts counter-tightened so that was less likely. We've learned to keep and eye on various things that seem to loosen up over time, inside and out.
 




Top