Diesel thefts on the rise; demand increases for locking caps

| 3/26/2008

With diesel at $4 a gallon, thieves nationwide are becoming more brazen about stealing it.

Steve and Carol Edwards of Siloam Springs, AR, learned that on Sunday, March 22, when Steve pulled into an overflow lot at a truck stop in Tucumcari, NM. Carol said the next morning he discovered he was short on fuel.

“When he got up, he was calculating how much he had left to get to his next fuel stop, and it didn’t calculate right,” she said. “He thought something was wrong, so when he did get to a location to fill up, he realized he was 75 gallons short of what he should have had.”

Carol said about six months ago someone siphoned fuel from their truck in Amarillo, TX. They’re now planning to buy locking fuel caps at about $100 apiece.

In an unrelated story, the Houston Chronicle reported that Richard Owens, 30, of Richmond, TX, was arrested March 20 on a charge of stealing 1,400 gallons of diesel fuel from the underground storage tanks of two service stations.

KFSN, the ABC affiliate in Fresno, CA, recently interviewed farmer Bill Spielman, who is fed up with fuel thieves. He says the diesel tank near the back of his almond orchard has been hit at least half a dozen times. Said Spielman, “One night they stole 800 gallons.”

Meanwhile, in Colerain Township, OH, police arrested a 38-year-old man last week on charges that he stole 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel from a construction site. Police say Jeffrey Reynolds put the fuel in a large, portable tank that was in the back of his pickup.

He was a fuel-theft amateur compared with a man who was responsible for stealing nearly 20,000 gallons at fueling stations from Bellingham, WA, to Oregon. David Torres, 36, confessed to the string of thefts, according to a probable cause affidavit filed March 19 by the sheriff's office in King County, WA.

The Seattle Times reported that Torres tampered with at least 15 pumps along the I-5 corridor, allowing him to fill 55-gallon drums for free. He then resold the fuel for about half of what the gas stations were charging.