As gas prices continue to climb to record highs, gasoline theft is becoming a real problem in California and some other states which have seen the most dramatic upticks at the pump.
According to recent reports, the number of gas thefts has skyrocketed in California, Illinois, Texas, and at least seven other states. An expert from AAA cautioned people to be on the lookout while at the pump.
“This is a sign of the times, you know, it’s thieves looking for ways they can make money by stealing what is becoming an increasingly more expensive and valuable commodity — gasoline,” said Doug Shupe, AAA employee.
“The cost of gas going up and up almost daily … triggers those who don’t want to pay to have an incentive to steal your hard-earned gas,” the Hoquiam Police Department in Washington state wrote in a recent Facebook post. “We often discover these thefts later when the owner goes to the gas station to fill up and finds all the fuel dumping out under the vehicle from the cut filler line.”
In another Facebook post, the Renton Police Department in Washington posted a warning to car owners to not fill up their gas tanks before switching out their gas cap for one that can lock. “Invest in a quality locking gas cap (even if your fuel door locks) to help make it inconvenient for a thief to steal your liquid gold,” the department wrote.
However, a locked gas tank may not be enough to thwart fuel bandits. Thieves are getting creative when it comes to stealing fuel, with some going as far as drilling holes into the tanks of vehicles, which can cost up to $1000 to repair.
Multiple reports say gas thieves are even stealing fuel from underground tanks at gas stations through a trap door inside their trucks. A Los Angeles gas station manager, Jerry Thayil, said 360 gallons of fuel was stolen in just three days.
“The van drives on top of the fuel tank, and then that’s all you see,” Thayil explained. “No one comes out, so they have a trap door inside their vehicle, which is crazy.”
AAA recommends people park their cars under bright lights or inside a parking garage to discourage thieves from targeting them. The organization also advises looking out for telltale signs such as a check engine light, the smell of fuel inside the vehicle, or a puddle on the side of the tank.