Gas thieves target commercial vehicles - East Valley Tribune: News

Gas thieves target commercial vehicles

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Posted: Friday, July 11, 2008 7:02 pm | Updated: 10:50 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The equation is simple. Larger gas tanks hold more gasoline. Gas thieves have caught on, and are targeting East Valley businesses that house these large vehicles.

Police: 3 teens caught siphoning U-Haul gas

On Wednesday, two 18-year-olds and a 16-year-old were caught siphoning gas into containers at a Gilbert U-Haul station.

Sgt. Mark Marino of Gilbert police said the boys had several tanks of gasoline when they were found near the U-Haul at 1230 N. Gilbert Road at 1:40 a.m., at the intersection of Houston Avenue and Gilbert Road.

A month earlier, on June 11, an employee living in a trailer at a Mesa U-Haul station at University Drive and Longmore was beaten after he found men trying to siphon gas from a truck.

According to Mesa police spokesman Steve Berry, the manager found the man lying in the U-Haul parking lot at 8 a.m. The gas caps had been removed from six vehicles in the lot but the thieves were only able to take two or three gallons, Berry said.

U-Haul manager Jim Croft said the thieves barely walked away with any gasoline because of anti-siphon devices on the U-Haul vehicles.

Croft said his injured employee had to stay in the hospital for two weeks to recover from the beating.

"It will be months before he can even come back to work," Croft said.

Other East Valley U-Haul businesses have had the same complaints.

According to a U-Haul spokeswoman, who did not want to be identified, Arizona U-Hauls have been stepping up their security systems by adding cameras and working with local authorities.

"It's a problem throughout various places in the U.S.," said the spokeswoman. "It's been a sticky situation."

Felicia Havens, an employee at a Queen Creek U-Haul at the intersection of Power and Williams Field roads, said thieves in the area have been cutting the trucks' gas lines underneath the tanks to reach the gas.

"We've had problems with that," Havens said. "It's an ongoing thing."

Queen Creek U-Haul owner Barry Kammeyer said he has had to replace several severed gas lines on trucks that had left the lot after being rented by customers. The lot itself has not been targeted, he said, because several security measures have been taken at his Ellsworth and Riggs roads location.

Thieves are also targeting other high-volume gas tanks, including vans and RVs, by cutting the gas lines underneath the vehicles.

Mesa resident Pat Engelman said her church van was targeted two weeks ago while sitting overnight in the parking lot.

"They just cut the line underneath, drained the gas and left it that way," Engelman said.

She said the Mesa church van was used for transporting handicapped churchgoers. She did not want to release the name of the church for fear of copycat crimes on the vehicle.

"I don't know what we can do," she said. "It's sad that people are stooping to that level."

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