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Author Topic: Rising Gas Prices Spawn Creative Gas Theives  (Read 861 times)


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Rising Gas Prices Spawn Creative Gas Theives
« on: June 15, 2008, 01:50:08 PM »


The surveillance tape shows a white car pulling up to a Chevron station in Charlotte, N.C., after closing time. Two men emerge, tinker with a gas pump and somehow manage to activate it. Before long, vehicles begin filing through, as the two men direct them and help fill up their tanks. One trucker tops off at least three 55-gallon drums. The video shows drivers paying off the two men and making calls on their cell phones, perhaps summoning friends to partake in the bonanza. "I watched at least 20 cars come through over several hours" on the surveillance footage, says Detective Bill Riggins of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, who is investigating the incident. "It was organized. [The two men] appeared to know who was coming." The night's haul: roughly 800 gallons, leaving the gas station owner on the hook for about $4,000.

Last month in Houston, according to news reports, one audacious thief hijacked a fuel tanker at gunpoint, yanked the driver out of the cab and made away with 7,500 gallons. Web sites like YouTube are replete with videos detailing the latest ingenious methods of pilfering fuel. (One particularly far-fetched idea: distract a driver at a gas station by asking for directions, while a dwarf surreptitiously transfers the nozzle from the victim's vehicle to yours.)

Because of the prepayment requirement, thieves have had to devise more creative schemes. Some have learned how to manipulate the security system on pumps; after prepaying for a few dollars' worth of gas they manage to keep the pump operating far beyond the amount paid for. Others have posed as maintenance personnel and somehow tapped a pump's metering system, releasing a flow of fuel. Another, more brazen approach involves stealing directly from the underground tanks at service stations: a driver positions a truck with a hole drilled in its floor over the tank, pries off the tank cover and inserts a pump that can guzzle up hundreds of gallons. "It's incredibly dangerous," says Lenard. "If you don't have the right vapor recovery system, you die." One small spark could ignite an inferno.

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