It’s a crime trend often tied to rising gas prices. So with prices at the pump marching to their highest level in years, gasoline theft is making a comeback.
Thieves are not only siphoning the gas. In more recent cases, they’re drilling a hole directly into the gas tank from underneath the vehicle. Some thieves are taking it even a step further by stealing the car battery.
“Take off one side, you lift this off, the battery’s gone, very easy,” said auto mechanic George Nitta. He says he’s seeing more thefts of car batteries, saying it could be a sign that thieves are getting more desperate. Once the battery is out, it’s easy enough to sell it.
“Fifty dollars. If you had a dead battery and you look on Craigslist, hey battery $50, you buy it,” he said.
A new battery would cost about $200. But it’s the damage to the car that will be really costly. Thieves usually pry the hood open.
Fixing the damage could cost up to $5,000. Even with a car alarm, prying the hood open will not trigger it. So Nitta says the best way to prevent it is by putting one under the hood.
“Have the alarm company put pins on the hood so when it moves it goes on. Noise always scares the thief,” he said.
This could be connected to the alarm already installed in the car so the cost will be less than $200. With the price of gas on the rise, thieves are also emptying your tank. Either they siphon the gas out or even worse, they drill a hole at the bottom of it. Nitta says high end cars are more likely targets because they have more expensive gas. Gas cap locks can help prevent thieves from siphoning the gas.
“They’ll break the little door cause you gotta pry that open and when they see the locking gas cap, forget it, they walk away,” Nitta said.
But he says not much can be done to prevent thieves from drilling a hole in your tank. It’s best to park your car in a well lit area and have surveillance cameras as a deterrent.
Replacing the gas tank is also pricey. Nitta says that can cost up to $2,000.