Police: Gas thief drilling holes into vehicle tanks

Police: Gas thief drilling holes into vehicle tanks

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by TONY BURBECK / NewsChannel 36

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

TONY BURBECK / NewsChannel 36

Posted on March 1, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 1 at 3:40 PM

FORT MILL, S.C. -- High gas prices could be the cause of a rash of thefts in Fort Mill where someone is drilling into gas tanks on cars and trucks.

The crime is leaving victims with empty gas tanks and big repair bills.

"It's kind of a unique crime that we really haven't seen before in this area," said Lt. Jeffrey Cornwell with the York County Sheriff's Office.

A spot on the blacktop on Lower Assembly Drive in the Baxter Village neighborhood marks the scene of the crime. Someone drilled a perfectly round hole into a truck's gas tank and stole the gas.

The truck owner didn't know anything was wrong until she noticed she was on empty, drove to a gas station, started filling up and felt the gas pooling around her feet.

"It definitely could result in serious burns or loss of life or property. It's very dangerous to drill into a gas tank. I personally would be scared to death to even think about attempting it," Cornwell said.

Cornwell says it's happened five times that they know of in about the last five weeks. Four of the incidents happened in Baxter Village.

The locations include Lower Assembly Drive, Jones Wade Court, Stratford Run Drive and Camber Woods Drive.

The victims all own trucks. At least one gas tank drilling happened in the parking lot of the Bailiwyck neighborhood clubhouse. That time it was a car.

"So far no witnesses to any incidents," Cornwell said.

Whoever is drilling holes might get $50 worth of gas per car or truck, but the repair bill is costing victims anywhere from a few hundred to about $1,400.

The drilling is happening at night.

Deputies are asking neighbors to be attentive and call 911 immediately to report suspicious behavior, including cars or trucks driving around at night and people carrying tools or containers.

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