There has been an increase in the theft of gasoline from parked vehicles in the southern part of the metro, a fair dollar value at recent prices and a major inconvenience for the people hit.
With gas prices at more than $3 a gallon, a full tank will cost about $50, twice that if one drives a truck.
"A pickup truck can hold up to $100 worth of fuel inside one fuel tank. But we're also talking about a major inconvenience when someone gets up to go to work in the morning and they don't have fuel in their vehicle," Franklin County, KS, Sheriff Jeff Curry said. "Not only have that, in some cases these vehicles have been damaged in order to get the fuel out."
That damage comes from the thief or thieves getting under the car and going straight for the fuel tank. In the past 2 months, there have been 11 reports in Ottawa proper and six more out in the county, many involving multiple cars per report. These instances happened in both business parking lots and neighborhood streets.
The thief or thieves seem to be targeting places where they can get multiples at once. And they're hitting after dark.
The sheriff says if people can't lock their car in a garage, at least park it somewhere well lit and keep an eye out, because this is no quick crime to commit.
"If you see anything that's suspicious, someone in the neighborhood that doesn't seem right, somebody underneath a car, anything, give us a call, let us come check it out," Curry said.
A locking gas cap could be a deterrent, but it could also get a fuel line snipped.
Ottawa Chief of Police Dennis Butler voiced concern for the rise of criminal activity in his jurisdiction.
"We are seeking help from members of our community to stop these fuel thefts, and to prevent the needless and expensive damage caused to the vehicles of innocent victims," he said.
Curry says the key to tracking down the thieves is having a comprehensive list of crimes, and that means reporting the theft no matter how small the loss.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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