As gas prices continue to soar in Southern California, thieves are going to dangerous lengths to avoid the price at the pump: drilling holes directly into gas tanks and letting the fuel leak out.
This is because most newer vehicles have rollover valves that prevent gas from being siphoned out.
"It’s very dangerous, I’m really surprised. For 30 to 40 bucks, they’re doing this," said Aziz Hussein, who owns A&A Auto Performance in North Hollywood.
While gas siphoning is less common, Hussein says a client will show up with missing or tampered-with catalytic converter at least twice a month.
What really concerns him, though, are those who show up with tampered-with gas tanks that need replacing.
He says the theft that occasions that visit "could blow up buildings, a neighborhood; not just the car. Imagine how that [would] be!"
And the solution isn't as simple as it seems since gas theft is a quiet crime.
This is in comparison to a catalytic converter theft, which usually requires a saw.
“Within like three minutes they can take it out, it’s what they want,” said Hussein, demonstrating the converter theft with a saw.
Turning the loud saw on, he says at "7 o'clock at night, you’re going to hear this in your house."
But when its a drill versus a plastic tank, "it's as easy as that."
Even holding a drill up to a tank to demonstrate the crime, Hussein said, "I get scared it could ignite, we could really blow up the whole car."
"And they have no fear, I don’t know why but they have no fear.”
To make matters worse, he says there's really no way to protect yourself: no way to cover a gas tank to prevent the theft.
The aftermath is a costly gas tank replacement.
"At least 1,500 to $2,000 now to repair a gas tank – we can’t repair them, they have to be replaced," said Hussein.