Fuel Thefts On The Rise In Md. As Gas Prices Skyrocket

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Thieves these days have their minds on more than just your money. Some of them are looking for your liquid assets. And we do mean liquid… as in your gasoline.

Derek Valcourt explains the growing trend of fuel thefts.

Blame it on the prices. From elaborate gas station ripoffs to car tanks drained dry, it appears that for crooks, gasoline is the new gold.

More than 900 gallons of gas was stolen from a Hyattsville gas station after thieves tampered with gas pumps, literally prying them open.

A surveillance camera video shows the coordinated heist with car after car then fueling up at the broken pump, without paying a dime.

“These gas prices– you can never tell what people will do,” one driver said.

Several other gas stations in Prince George’s County report similar large-scale ripoffs.

Police there– aware of gas theft problems– say they’ve made arrests in similar cases before.

And it’s not just the gas station thieves are targeting. Some of them are stealing the gas right out of your car’s tank, and you won’t believe how.

Thieves are literally drilling holes directly into gas tanks.

“It made me feel really bad about people,” Betty Thompson, a gas theft victim, said.

Thompson’s Hyundai Sonata was left empty.

“I can’t believe it. That seems like a lot of trouble to get gas,” she said.

She isn’t alone. Police in Takoma Park report holes were drilled in the gas tanks of several cars in the 7400-block of New Hampshire Avenue. And at an Annapolis Toyota dealership on West Street, a dozen small trucks have been targeted in the last week.

“Some of your pickups, they’ll have 34 gallon tanks in them,” Pete Parkinson, a mechanic, explained.

Mechanics point out drilling into a gas tanks is a potentially explosive situation.

“I think they’re stupid because one of these days, it’s going to blow up and it’s not going to hurt just one person,” Parkinson said. “It depends on where the tank is and what area it’s in.”

If you are a victim, not only are you out a tank of gas, but the car repair isn’t cheap. Most mechanics recommend replacing the entire fuel tank which can run you about $500.

This idea of drilling holes into gas tanks is a relatively new phenomenon, but it’s not isolated to Maryland. Several other states have reported similar incidents.

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