gas theft

Thieves Siphon 2,000 Gallons of Gas From a High Desert School District

Snowline Joint Unified School District Superintendent Ryan Holman said the thieves broke into the district's transportation yard last weekend using a box truck and made off with $8,000 worth of gas.

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When gas prices began to soar last month, the nation also saw an increase in theft related to fuel; with thieves stealing catalytic converters, siphoning gas or drilling holes into tanks.

While LA County has began to see drops in these prices, the theft continues all across Southern California and particularly in the Inland Empire where 2,000 gallons of fuel was stolen from the main underground gas containers at the transportation yard of Snowline Joint Unified School District in Phelan.

Ryan Holman, the district superintendent, says the thieves broke in last weekend using a box truck.

They siphoned nearly 3 fluid tons of gas which is worth about $8,000.

"That certainly is something that hurst our school district, and even the other impact, of course, is the culture of this community," said Holman.

The district is now enhancing security in hopes of preventing a repeat of this incident.

But thieves aren't just targeting entities -- like in Florida where six men were arrested for allegedly stealing at least $60,000 worth of gas from stations -- they're also stealing from individuals.

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Fran Gillette and her husband, Jerry Gillette, are two such victims.

When Fran walked outside her Murrieta home a few weeks ago to get the newspaper, she saw the gas cap dangling from her husband's truck.

"I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe this,'" she said.

And the theft hadn't ended with Fran and Jerry.

"I walked back out to my neighbor's going, 'I can't believe they hit my tank too," said Fran.

She says at least five other vehicles in the neighborhood were hit.

Fortunately, the thieves weren't able to take much fuel since many newer-model cars have a rollover valve which typically inhibits siphoning.

"The little bit that they're getting, I don't know how much it helps them -- it hurts us," said Jerry.

Just like SJUSD, Fran and Jerry are also taking steps to improve their security by parking their truck closer to a motion light and surveillance camera at their home.

They're just glad the thieves didn't puncture a hole in their gas tank.

"They're going to hit anybody, so be careful and aware," said Fran.

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