June 2nd, 2008
03:25 PM ET

Crude awakening: ‘Drilling’ for gas

Police say thieves are drilling holes in cars to steal gasoline straight from the tank. WSBT's Dustin Grove reports.
Police say thieves are drilling holes in cars to steal gasoline straight from the tank. WSBT's Dustin Grove reports.

David M. Reisner
360° Digital Producer


It was only a matter of time…

With oil at record high’s and gas prices hitting $4 a gallon, people have taken to drilling for oil… from other people’s tanks.

That’s right; while the price at the pump has already forced some people to curtail their summer plans and stay home… others are looking to their own backyards, to steal gas.

Gasoline prices surged just before Memorial Day weekend and on Monday hit a new record national average $3.937 for a gallon of regular, according to a survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service

As the price of gas rises, more people are stealing from stations and siphoning. CNN's Kathleen Koch reports.
As the price of gas rises, more people are stealing from stations and siphoning. CNN's Kathleen Koch reports.
‘Tank puncturing’, as one Denver police detective said, is a “new way of siphoning gas”

Although tank puncturing isn’t on the radar of many law enforcement organizations, ‘AAA Mid-Atlantic’ issued a press release last month that cited a case in April in Bethesda, Md., involving a thief who broke the fuel line underneath a car and sapped five gallons of gas… Montgomery County police said a bus in the same parking lot had 30 gallons of diesel stolen.

Suggestions from AAA? 

  • Park your vehicle in a garage, attended parking lot or in a lighted area.
  • Vary your parking routine.
  • Check the fuel gauge when returning to vehicle to make sure gas hasn't been stolen.

These are crimes of opportunity," said AAA spokeswoman Catherine Rossi. "Right now, some people think that stealing gas is a way to get rich quick. It becomes a question of whether you're leaving yourself open to the possibility that someone can get to your car without being seen."

The cost of replacing a metal tank on passenger vehicles is between $300 and $400, and the plastic tank common on newer vehicles would be at least $500.

Take a look at these reports from all across the country: From 'Tank puncturing' to gasoline 'drive offs,' where people fill up... and drive off without paying

Filed under: Gas Prices • Gasoline Theft • Oil
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Amy J

    Gosh, you people all make me feel old. This is nothing new. Back during the oil embargo in the 70's, fuel theft via siphoning became a big deal when fuel prices topped (gasp!) $1.00 a gallon. (Okay, I wasn't driving back then, so my facts may be a little off.) Anyway, that was the advent of the locking gas cap. Now most cars are manufactured with a locking gas cap flap, so the new technique is going straight to the tank.

    June 3, 2008 at 8:28 am |
  2. Kent Fitzsimmons,Illinois

    Hey...........we may see cars blowing up from sparks from whatever these thieves are using to puncture tanks...................

    June 2, 2008 at 10:44 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    Anymore this "tank puncturing" to steal gas doesn't feel like petty larceny with gas prices as high as they are. I hope some of the people doing this are caught and examples made of them – jail time, no slap on the wrist.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 2, 2008 at 9:31 pm |
  4. Heather

    I have a Bimmer. I love my car. I really do. I love it. But I dont like filling the gas tank. I have to use the Premium stuff and living in Ca well its always more. However the other day I drove by the station and saw what made my head do a double take. $4.36 for gas! Forget about reaching $4 we are headed to $5 very soon. I think before the end of the year. I do my errands one day a week. I stay home the rest. This reminds me of when I lived in OC Ca. When we had blackouts and people were pawning their wedding rings to pay their electric bill. A couple was even considering putting their sick child up for adoption because they couldnt afford the electric bills to keep machines running to keep her alive. I always wondered if they got help. What is next for us now? Its not like companies are paying for gas for their employees who have to travel hours to work.

    June 2, 2008 at 6:49 pm |
  5. Sharon from Indy

    Are we addicted to to oil or just dependent upon it? If we cannot get our gasoline, how far will we go to be able to go to work, buy groceries, or pick up our kids?

    June 2, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  6. Wanda

    Gas was stolen from my mother's car about a month ago, and the car was in the house's closed garage!! Somehow, the thieves managed to get the garage door open, while my mother was in the house, mind you. There is speculation an older garage door opener was used to open the door, and then gas was siphoned from the tank.

    My mother hasn't felt safe since. It is a violation of someone's personal property to steal gas from their car. To me, it is the same as breaking into someone's home and stealing their personal property.

    June 2, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  7. Dee, New York

    Wow, and I thought that drive offs were pretty low. Where has civility gone? I guess that times are getting desperate. It is a sad reflection on our society.

    June 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  8. Lilibeth

    You're right, it was only a matter of time and it will only get worse if the economy doesn't get better. What's next, stealing food from homes or grocery stores?

    Edmonds, Washington

    June 2, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  9. Bonnie

    This story reminds me a bit of the horror the Thais felt after Hurricane Katrina: Here we just had a tsunami that cost tens of thousands of lives, with thousands of the survivors foreign tourists, and no one had so much as their wallet lifted in the aftermath of that disaster. Meanwhile the Americans are killing and raping each other after a few days of being stuck in a convention hall.

    I live in Germany, where we now pay around $8 a gallon for gas, and the crime you describe is unheard-of here. So it was not "only a matter of time" before people started puncturing and siphoning, as you say at the start of this post. It was a matter of time – AND culture.

    Take care,
    Bonnie J. Gordon

    June 2, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  10. Cindy

    Some people are just ridiculous.

    I haven't heard if this one but here in Georgia people are stealing other peoples car tags, putting them on their cars and going to the gas station to fill up. Once they are done they drive off without paying and the cameras get the stolen tag number. So the person it is stolen from has a lot of explaining to do.

    The police here tell us to make sure our license plates are on every time we get back in our cars. If not to report it immediately so if they do a gas and run you won't be having to try to explain away the crime.


    June 2, 2008 at 3:37 pm |
  11. Kristen

    I just can’t even believe this. I know gas is high but really, give me a break. You can’t afford gas so you rip off someone who probably cant afford it either. Gosh, what is this country coming to? Must it always be about "me, me, me". I think that the Hillary self serving spirit must be contagious. Let’s get her out of the national spotlight now. lol.

    June 2, 2008 at 3:37 pm |