Local News

Fill it up, then lock it up; gas theft rising along with prices

Posted May 29, 2008 11:12 p.m. EDT
Updated May 29, 2008 11:50 p.m. EDT

— Retail gas prices rose Thursday to a new record above $3.95 a gallon. As prices soar, vehicle fuel tanks are becoming a target for thieves – fueling a boom in sales of locking gas caps.

“I knew how much gas I had,” Apex Town Manager Bruce Radford said.

Radford said he rented a car and left his truck at the rental car company overnight in what he thought was a safe place.

“It (truck) was well protected, very visible,” he added. “I came back the next morning, cranked the car, looked down at the gas needle and it was completely empty."

Thieves used Radford's truck as a gas pump – siphoning $50 worth of gas out of it.

“It doesn't take long to siphon out 10 (to) 15 gallons of gas and be on your way,” Apex Police Chief Jack Lewis said.

Stealing gas is a crime of opportunity that drivers can help prevent, Lewis said.

Drivers who don't release control their gas caps from inside their cars should look into purchasing a gas-cap lock that can cost $15 to $20.

“Opportunist criminals are looking for the easiest in and out, the fastest, the quickest way and they're gone and that's what happens,” Lewis said.

Radford said he considered a locked gas cap, but is holding off, for now.

“If this continues to happen, then I'll make that decision. But for the time being, we'll see how tough times get,” he added.

To help keep thieves away from your gas tank:

  • Try to park in a well-lit area with plenty of foot traffic.
  • Park with your gas cap facing a curb or park between two vehicles. That makes it difficult for someone to pull up next to you and siphon your gas.