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SWFL law enforcement warns of gasoline thieves

Posted at 6:57 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 06:30:24-04

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — A warning from law enforcement on gas theft and ways to help prevent you from becoming a victim. As gas prices have gone up, gas theft reports have too.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office says they have no reports of this at this time, but says that everyone should know it can happen.

"We believe in keeping our community aware of what's going on at all times," said Chris Hall, a Community Affairs Specialist with the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office. "We try to stay ahead of the scams and ahead of the routines so our community can be prepared to make sure they aren't victims.

"You're going to see more thefts; you're going to see people try to take advantage of the situation."

Thieves may be targeting your fuel and siphoning it directly from your vehicle.

Thinking about this when talking with our community members right at the gas pump, Al Green remembers the last time he's heard of people siphoning gas.

"Well for me it was a long time ago, back in my teenage years, early 20’s," Green said. "I used to mow lawns and instead of carrying a gas can we would always just have a hose and siphon the gas out of the pickup truck and put it into the lawn movers and go that way."

But according to law enforcement, these days it's happening because of the prices. Hall says you can take steps to prevent your tank from being tapped today.

"Obviously, the first thing you want to do is make sure if you can park your car in your garage where it's secured," he said. "If you can't park your vehicle in a well-lit place, you can purchase one of those gas caps if you think that's something that'll help you.

"If you have security cameras at your home, aim them towards your car or towards your driveway," he added. "And be your neighbor's keeper too. Look out for each other and help each other out."

Look out for indications that you may have been a victim of fuel theft:

  • odor of gas or diesel near your vehicle
  • fuel puddled underneath your vehicle
  • fuel gauge is noticeably lower
  • vehicle fails to start

Notify authorities immediately if you notice any of the above signs.

"First thing you need to do is call the Sheriff's Office; let us know," said Hall. "If we need to come out there ... we want to make sure that scene is not contaminated in any way."

We reached out to other Southwest Florida law enforcement agencies: Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno says to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings. He also encourages you to “See it, say it, make the call."