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A rise in gasoline prices has led to an equal increase in gas theft. In recent months, gas prices have been higher than $5. In some states like California, they’ve been above $6. Even as some gas stations have started to notice the increased theft and take increased precautions, thieves are coming up with more crafty ways to steal gas. 

Of course, it’s important to note that all thieves end up being successful. One recent case shows how gas theft can spell tragedy for both the victim and the thief. 

Thief catches on fire trying to steal gas

A yellow gas nozzle, some may use to steal gas through various methods.
Gas nozzle | Getty Images

On June 17th, the New York Post reported a man in Utah driving a white pick-up truck attempted to siphon gas by drilling a hole into the tank. Suddenly, the man’s shirt caught fire, and he was seen running from the truck. He then fell and rolled on the ground to put the fire out. Eventually, an accomplice arrived to pick him up and drove away. 

Interestingly, this was not the first time thieves had targeted company trucks from Summit Fire and Protection. According to Yahoo News, earlier that day, a different group of thieves attempted to siphon gas from a truck. After stealing a catalytic converter, they managed to get away with the crime. 

Currently, no updates have been given for either group of thieves. It is unclear how serious the man’s injuries were after he caught on fire or any of the thieves’ true identities. 

Why gas theft is not the answer 

Even if the thief ended up with burns after catching on fire, store manager Travis Mills still asserts that he’s lucky. He said, “The reason why he’s fleeing is that, if there were more gas in it than a gallon, this thing would have turned into a bomb.” When the thief used a drill in this case, it generated heat in the drill bit that could have sparked a fire. And when gas catches on fire, it’s prone to explode.

When someone is right next to a gasoline explosion, it’s lethal, and that might not be the only damage. Gas explosions can send debris flying into people or buildings, or the fire can spread. Mills went on to say, “It’s not worth the $5 that he would have saved for the injury that the guy sustained.”

Indeed, the prices people pay for gas theft are often far higher than if they’d just bought gas normally. Some gas thieves create sophisticated devices to retrieve gas and make thousands, only to land in prison.

Newsweek reported that two young men aged 21 and 24 landed in jail for “grand larceny, conspiracy, and possession of burglary tools.” Less sophisticated thieves like the man in the story risk killing themselves and others just for a small amount of gas.

How to protect your truck from people trying to steal gas

Incidents like this show that gas stations aren’t the only targets for gas theft—vehicles are, too. The best way to protect your truck is to park it in well-lit, high-traffic areas with security cameras nearby. Or, if possible, State Farm suggests avoiding public parking as much as possible. You can also try to get a locking fuel cap for some added protection. 

Gasoline prices appear to be on the decline

If the headlines on high gas prices and theft get you down, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there’s still some hope. Yahoo News stated that gas prices are going down slowly, with the national average being $4.90 as of June 27th. With any luck, this long and drawn-out chapter of theft and destruction will finally come to a close.


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