Law enforcement agencies across the country are warning about an increase in gas theft as fuel prices soar to historic levels at the pump.
In Portland, Oregon, police have already reported several incidents of gas siphoning from vehicles.
“We are concerned it could continue to happen and we might see a trend,” Sergeant Kevin Allen, a spokesperson for the Portland Police Bureau, told KCBY 11. “Sometimes, thieves will get under the car and either drill a hole into the tank or get into the gas line and drain the fuel that way.”
However, the act of drilling a hole near a gas tank can be extremely dangerous.
“If someone is using a drill to drill into someone’s gas tank, you’re risking sparks that could generate a fire or even an explosion,” Allen warned.
In Sacramento, California, police say thieves broke into a parking lot and used power tools to drill holes in the gas tanks of nine vehicles to siphon gas.
Police in Wisconsin reported a similar incident that occurred at a car dealership.
But it’s not just personal vehicles that are being targeted. In Houston, thieves stole fuel directly from a gas station; they used a rubber object to manipulate the pulser at a pump and got away with about a half-tank of gas. The thieves were later arrested.
In Atlanta, a thief made off with thousands of dollars’ worth of gas in similar fashion but was also later arrested.
The Everett Police Department in Washington State released a warning on social media urging the public to keep their cars parked indoors or in a secure area.
“The cost of damage to the gas tank far exceeds that of the gasoline and we recommend that you park your vehicle in a garage or well-lit and high traveled area to help deter would-be thieves. If you see or hear and suspicious activity near your vehicle, call 911 right away,” the post read.
Allen said drivers should be vigilant and recognize tell-tale signs that their gas tank has been tampered with, such as the smell of gasoline around your car, a pool of gas underneath the car or fragments of metal on the ground.
He also echoed advice from the Everett police.
“It’s not like something you can smash a window and take out, like you could inside a car; this is something that takes work. it takes time. So if you’re parked in an area with more people, it’s going to be harder for that thief to commit that crime,” he said.
The steps to protect one’s car are similar to those advised by law enforcement amid the rise in catalytic converter thefts, which skyrocketed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.