High gas prices are tempting criminals.
Gas prices are reaching record highs in America these days. Take California, for example. The price has reached $6 per gallon in many parts of the Golden State. Some have called for America to begin producing more oil, but that's easier said than done. For now, Americans have a simple choice: keep paying for gas or drive less. For a majority, the latter is simply not possible. Unfortunately, the high fuel prices have also created a black market for gasoline. When demand is high, criminals see opportunity.
CNN reported earlier this week that dealerships have become the target for thieves, but not for the vehicles themselves. Instead, they want the fuel. A dealer in Wisconsin is one of many victims of this crime. A dealer technician was inspecting a used Jeep Grand Cherokee when he noticed the gas leak.
He continued his inspection by placing the SUV on a lift and "as soon as he put it in the air, everybody could see that somebody had actually drilled a hole into the fuel tank," said dealer owner Mike Gross. Normally, Gross and other dealers are accustomed to thieves targeting wheels, tires, cash, and, of course, vehicles, but never gasoline itself. Stealing just three gallons of gas resulted in about $1,500 worth of damage to the Jeep.
Elsewhere in the US, gas thieves are taking away thousands of dollars worth of fuel at once. Even gas stations are becoming victims. One station owner in Texas reported $27,000 worth of stolen fuel over the past few months. He didn't say how the thieves are managing to snag the fuel out of fear of copycats.
"This guy must be working for some type of gas dispenser company because he had way too much information," the owner said. He knew "how to take parts out (of the gas dispensers) and play with the system. No normal person can do it; the only person who can do that is someone who actually works for dispensers."
The owner has since beefed up his station's security. Another Texas gas station owner who fell victim revealed that the thieves parked a minivan over the underground fuel tank and managed to steal 1,000 gallons of diesel over three days. That minivan had a trap door custom-built for this purpose. In North Caroline, another gang of criminals stole 400 gallons after successfully bypassing the payment system. Gas stations appear to the primary targets but auto dealerships are clearly not immune.