The director of a Dallas community center found that someone had crawled under its 15-passenger van and drilled a nail-size hole into the gas tank, bleeding out all 33 gallons and dealing a “bad setback” to the center, whose vehicles ferry children to after-school programs. High fuel prices have stirred concerns about gas thefts. Dallas police say such crimes have increased only modestly in recent months, and in some places not at all, reports the Dallas Morning News.
Residents are hurrying to buy lockable gas caps, but thieves who once used hoses and mouthfuls of fuel to empty gas tanks are adopting more invasive tools – sharp objects like rebar or even electric drills – to puncture the tank itself. Most vehicle gas tanks are now plastic instead of metal. This reduces the risk of creating a spark, although penetrating a tank is still dangerous, especially if thieves use power tools. Drilling into gas tanks allows burglars to work more quickly, said Parker Benda, co-owner s gas station near downtown Dallas. Police said thieves generally target large parking lots and SUVs that ride high enough to be pilfered from underneath. “It only takes a couple of minutes,” he said. “You never even see them.”