SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — With gas prices around $6 per gallon in some parts of the state, thieves have been targeting gas tanks.
An auto body shop in Sacramento said they have been seeing more and more customers with punctured, empty gas tanks.
“Most of them are so exposed; it’s just too easy.”Clark Magee, with 16th Street Auto Body, said.
Magee said at least one driver a week pulls up to the shop with a punctured gas tank.
“Most people come up to the car and they smell gas all over, and they’re like, ‘What happened here,” Magee explained.
Vehicle manufacturers are making it harder and harder to siphon gas, so instead, thieves are choosing to go under the vehicles and puncture the gas tanks.
“They just drill the hole. It takes minutes,” Magee said.
He said gasoline thieves target SUVs and trucks with easy-to-access tanks. Then, they get to work by putting two holes in the plastic tank and filling milk jugs or soda bottles with the stolen gasoline.
Tens of dollars in gasoline are gone in a few minutes, but it takes several months and hundreds of dollars to replace the tank.
Magee said a new tank costs anywhere from $600 to $900 and a few months to ship on the stalled supply chain.
“How many gallons can you put in a milk jug under a car? It doesn’t justify what happened to somebody. The person is out the money, they’re out their gas, and they’re also out their vehicle for a week — or two sometimes. It’s very disruptive,” Magee said.
To avoid the headache, AAA suggests parking in a secure, well-lit area if possible and somewhere that’s also heavily trafficked.
Waiting weeks to drive isn’t ideal, so Magee suggests going with a used tank. It costs around $100 and an auto body shop will install it.