How vulnerable are your trucking operations? Someone—likely one person or very few individuals, officials believe—stuffed latex gloves into the fuel tanks of about 30 Mount Vernon, NY heavy trucks with snowplows and put them out of commission at a key time just before a snowstorm hit last week.
It's a classic vehicle disabling trick right up there with sugar in the gas tank, only it actually works. Getting a latex rubber glove or two down into a fuel tank won't do much right away—the gloves don't dissolve and will just float there—until you start the vehicle and a glove gets sucked up into the fuel intake hose and causes a total blockage.
That will choke off, sputter and stall the vehicle, seemingly inexplicably to the driver. Mount Vernon trucks struggled and choked to a halt at the side of the road after city drivers pulled them out to plow and salt the roads.
The unfortunate takeaway is that the attack worked, showing how truly little it can take for some negative force to seriously disable a trucking operation or business. Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas called the act "a direct attack on the people of Mount Vernon."
He noted that as a result of the sabotage, snowplow and salt trucks had been delayed and it did indeed cause a public and transportation danger. "We saw oil tankers spinning out; we saw buses getting stuck on inclines and slopes," he said. Police officers had to be diverted to block off roads, Mount Vernon Chief of Police Shawn Harris said.
According to news reports, Mount Vernon Public Works mechanics had to use bent coat hangers—much like hangers straightened out as a tool to open a locked vehicle—to fish out the latex gloves from the tanks. In the end, many of the 30 snow plow trucks were delayed and couldn't get out until about 10 a.m., well after they would have otherwise.
The city is reviewing security camera footage but as of yet has reported no further leads.