Gasoline thefts increase as prices rise. How to protect your car

A service technician was preparing to inspect a used Jeep when he discovered a gas leak. The technician put the vehicle on a winch and “as soon as he put it in the air, everyone could see that someone had actually drilled a hole in the fuel tank” to steal the gasoline, Gross said.

Gas prices have steadily risen over the past year as the US economy shrugged off the sluggishness of the Covid-19 pandemic. Then prices soared to record highs this month after Russia invaded Ukraine. Now, similar reports of gas theft, from Georgia to Washington and the states in between, are regularly reported.

The thief at the Wisconsin dealership caused about $1,500 in damage to the Jeep for about three gallons of gasoline, Gross said. But elsewhere, thieves reportedly got away with thousands of dollars in gasoline.

Mandeep Singh, owner of a gas station in Duncanville, Texas, has had around $27,000 worth of gas stolen in the past few months. He wouldn’t reveal to CNN how the thefts happen because he doesn’t want others to try the same thing.

“This guy must be working for some type of gas dispenser company because he had way too much information,” Singh said, like “how to get parts (from gas dispensers) out and play with the system. No normal person can do that; the only person who can do that is someone who actually works for distributors.”

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The police are working on the case and Singh has tightened security at his post.

“We hope justice will be served,” he said. “That’s a lot of money for us to lose.”

Thieves come up with new ways to steal from gas stations. In Houston, Texas, they parked a van with a hatch above a station’s underground fuel tank and dipped into the tank to steal 1,000 gallons of diesel over a three-day period, Jerry Thayil said , owner of the Fuqua Express station.

Thayil is “a bit frustrated and angry,” he said. “I can’t pass that on to my client.”

Store manager chases van after thieves stole more than 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel from family gas station
Florida investigators last week arrested two people who allegedly used fraudulent credit/debit cards and pump-tampering devices to steal gasoline, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Florida.
In North Carolina last week, nearly 400 gallons of gasoline were stolen by thieves who were able to bypass the payment system. A car recently stopped at the Bizzy Bee Grocery and Gas Station in High Point, and someone appeared to use a device on the pump to get gas without paying. Then more than 15 cars pulled over and filled their tanks in 45 minutes, consuming $1,600 worth of gasoline, according to station owner Hardik Patel.

The victims are not just business leaders. Across the country, people are reporting that their gas tanks have been punctured and gas stolen.

In a Lowe’s parking lot in Carson City, Nevada, last week, two suspects punctured the gas tank of a parked van – with the victim inside and “in broad daylight”, the affiliate reported. CNN, KOLO. In an incident where gasoline was stolen in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a home security camera recorded someone walking around the car with a drill and bucket, according to CNN affiliate WPVI .
Several people around Atlanta said they had their gas tanks drilled and emptied, according to CNN affiliate WSB-TV. Atlanta police arrested a man earlier this month on suspicion of puncturing fuel tanks and taking gasoline, the department said in a statement.

Drilling a hole in a gas tank is the only way to get gas out of the tank in newer cars, which have a valve that prevents gas from spilling out in a crash, according to AAA. The valve also prevents gas from being siphoned out of an old-fashioned tank.

How to protect yourself from gas theft

Police departments across the country have advised drivers to take steps to protect their cars from fuel theft. The Everett Police Department and the Hoquiam Police Department in Washington suggest that drivers take precautionary measures, such as purchasing a locking gas cap and parking in a visible, well-lit area.

AAA has received so many inquiries about gas theft that it has compiled a list of tips on how to avoid it, according to Andrew Gross, public relations manager for AAA National.

Tips include parking in your garage if you have one, and when you go out, park in well-lit areas with high foot traffic or, if possible, in a fenced lot or parking garage.

If you suspect your tank has been punctured — judging by the smell or puddles of gas near the tank — take your vehicle to a trusted repair center as soon as possible, advises AAA.