Gas thieves turning to cutting vehicle fuel lines

Mar 17 2012 - 9:55pm

WEST POINT -- Construction workers have one more thing to worry about being stolen from their job sites -- fuel.

With the price increase in diesel and gas, fuel thefts across the country have also increased, officials said.

"They're robbing us blind," said Daren Poore, who works with Daley Construction.

Last summer, thieves stole and cut up aluminum ladders that had been on a job site, Poore said. And the latest theft was more than $200 of diesel fuel from an 80,000-pound excavator.

Poore said when he arrived to work on March 9, he started the excavator to begin digging an area plotted to be a subdivision.

"I smelled diesel, so I got out," he said.

Looking under the truck, he spotted a hole and a stick laying on the track.

Someone had removed the steel plate cover, then drilled a hole in the tank and took more than half of the off-road diesel fuel that was inside. They then tried to plug the hole with a stick.

Poore reported the theft to the Davis County Sheriff's Office.

"With the increasing cost of gas across the country, there is a new trend of gas thefts happening," said Davis County Sheriff's Sgt. Susan Poulsen. "Thieves are cutting through fuel tanks."

In the 1980s, when fuel prices increased dramatically, so did fuel thefts. Back then, thieves siphoned the fuel using a tube, sucking it to get the fuel to come up the tube, then put the fuel in portable gas tanks.

Now thieves are drilling holes or breaking fuel lines to get to the fuel.

Ben Cox, salesman with Jed's Treads in Layton, said several people have brought their cars in to have the fuel tanks repaired after thieves drilled holes in them.

The amount of fuel stolen from a car or truck is usually less than $100. The cost to repair the fuel tank can is much more.

"Generally, you have to replace them because it's too dangerous to try to weld the tanks back together and it's more cost effective," Cox said.

The cost of a new fuel tank starts at $400, "plus labor, plus towing, plus the inconvenience," Cox said.

Poulsen said residents can protect their fuel by parking their vehicles in an area where thieves can be seen. Motion detectors are also good to install.

If possible, park vehicles inside a locked garage, she said.

And if someone suspicious is lurking in the neighborhood, call 911, Poulsen said.

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