Californians are being warned about the potential for theft of fuel from gas tanks, as prices near a statewide average of six dollars per gallon and reports of punctured and empty gas tanks are beginning to proliferate on local news channels.

In Sacramento County, probation officers found that they were the victims of gas theft, according to CBS Sacramento:

Sacramento County probation officers have found themselves the victim of an overnight crime — a thief has targeted gas tanks in the face of rising prices.

They say someone broke into their secured parking lot along Del Paso Boulevard in the early morning hours and stole gasoline from the county vehicles parked there.

“Gas is really high priced so I wasn’t super surprised,” Vondrak said.

The thief is accused of using a handheld power tool to drill holes in the gasoline tanks underneath the vehicles in an effort to steal fuel.

The Los Angeles Times added:

Reports of gas theft have cropped up across the country. In Sacramento, several vehicles from the county probation department were targeted by someone who drilled holes in their fuel tanks to steal gas, KVOR TV reported. Other stations have reported similar thefts.

“With gas prices creeping up to new record highs daily here in Southern California, the Auto Club wanted to warn drivers there is the possibility that people are looking for crimes of opportunity … [and] gasoline for their own vehicles,” said Doug Shupe of the American Automobile Assn.

Shupe said gas siphoning was a common way to steal gas in the past during times of high prices or shortages. With anti-rollover valves, which block siphon hoses, installed in gas tanks of newer cars, thieves must resort to drilling a hole in the tank instead, Shupe said.

California’s statewide average gas price is the highest in the nation, at $5.69 per gallon. It is the only state with an average price of above $5, though prices are climbing everywhere, and one expert warned that prices of $8 per gallon could become common in California before the current price surge abates.

Prices began rising last year, and have risen further since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted global oil supplies and caused the U.S. to Cut Off Russian oil imports.

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