Police warn drivers against criminals drilling into gasoline tanks

Police warn drivers against criminals drilling into gasoline tanks: 10 p.m. report
Kim Buffett
Kim Buffett
Dexter Andam
Dexter Andam

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police are asking drivers to be on high alert after a recent rash of gasoline thefts where criminals are drilling holes in tanks.

There have been nine incidents since the beginning of May with one as recently as Tuesday. Police have yet to make an arrest.

Tanks have been hit across Oahu from East Honolulu to Halawa Valley.

Police say usually in the middle of the night, criminals are targeting SUV's, trucks and vans-- both private and commercial.

Most have one thing in common.

"We are finding that the ones drilled are the plastic gas tanks, so I don't know if they are targeting the SUV's or higher trucks," said Sgt. Kim Buffett of CrimeStoppers.

The thieves are targeting metal tanks because drilling through them creates sparks and plastic is easier to work through.

Mechanics say the incidents are an expensive problem.

"Let's say if you have a wireless drill, it's as simple as that, drill it right there and the gas comes out," said Dexter Andam, who works as a mechanic at Midas Auto Repair.  "You have to replace the tank."

Andam says a tank-replacement job could cost as high as $1,200--depending on tank size.

Police suspect high gasoline prices could be to blame for the thefts. Regardless, the problem needs to be capped.

"We do have an instance where somebody, they smelt gasoline, and not realizing, drove and said, 'That's funny, I just filled up my gas tank, but it's empty now,'" Buffett said. "They fill up their tank again and it's empty the next day. They take it to a shop and find that there's a hole in their tank."

There are products available to prevent the siphoning of gas, but when it comes to stopping any drilling, the options are slim.

"Maybe the safest thing you can do is install lights to the front of your house," Buffett said. "Motion detector lights, park as close to your garage as possible, just so that it is a deterrent for anybody that wants to siphon or drill holes in your gas tank."

Police say anyone caught stealing faces charges of theft and criminal property damage.

Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers.


Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now.  All rights reserved.