What happens when someone tries to steal fuel from a car's tank in public during broad daylight? Logic says passers-by will tell them to stop, and have-a-go-heroes will be morally obliged to stomp their heads in, but logic doesn't always translate to reality.
We discovered this first hand recently when, returning to one of our cars, we found the tank empty. Someone had taken the liberty of siphoning the entire tankful of petrol and made good their escape, leaving us stranded, incensed and questioning our faith in humanity.
We figured if it had happened to us then surely it must be happening to other people. So we set up a social experiment to see what the public reaction was to petrol theft -- particularly the brazen sort that happens in broad daylight.
We gathered together all the necessary equipment: some hoses for siphoning, a drill-powered pump, an electric screwdriver, an 850-watt hammer drill, 30m of electrical extension cable, a petrol can for capturing the liquid bounty, and headed into the heart of the city.
We began our experiment just around the corner from Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square. There, with the camera hidden from sight we siphoned, and siphoned, and siphoned, but remarkably, nobody batted an eyelid. We then headed to the more densely-populated Covent Garden area and began to siphon using the drill-powered pump attached to our electric screwdriver. But again, despite more than 150 people wandering by, and various people milling about, nobody seemed concerned.
For our last test, we upped the ante. We knocked on the door of a local business, asked them if we could connect our extension lead to an outlet in their office, fed the wire through their window and hooked up an enormous 850-watt power drill. Then, in the middle of Covent Garden, we began to simulate the process of drilling a hole in the car's petrol tank to get directly to the fuel.
Did the public respond? Did anyone call the police? You can see the results for yourself in the video below, but let's just say people aren't quite as precious about preventing crime as one might think. Hit play, watch the action, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook.