Stealing Gas Gets More Ingenious

With the average price for a gallon of gas now at a record high, thieves are coming up with ingenious new ways to steal it.

Frank Velosa's Miami gas station was hit by professionals who used seven cars to steal hundreds of dollars worth of gas.

The theft, caught on a video surveillance camera, showed a driver pulling up to the pump and opening his door to block the view from inside the station.

The passenger, looking as if he was filling the tank, actually unlocked the pump with a stolen key. Meanwhile, a third accomplice went to the cashier and paid for $5 worth of gas.

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Once the pump itself was unlocked, the thieves could manipulate the internal mechanism to release the fuel — without the owners being any wiser.

"Once they got the key in and opened, there are three levers for each grade of gas. They lift the lever up, turn it to the side and that lets the gas flow freely without it being detected," Velosa said.

Another gas theft caught on tape in Hermitage, Pa., showed a truck that seemed to be innocently parked over the fuel storage tanks.

But there was a trap door on the floor of the trailer that allowed a vacuum pump to be secretly inserted into the dealer's storage tanks, sucking huge amounts of fuel into portable tanks inside the trailer.

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"That's extremely dangerous not only for the thief but anyone associated with that person," said Jim Lenard, the spokesperson for the National Association of Convenience Stores.

In 2007, before the days of $4 gasoline, more than $134 million worth of fuel was stolen in the United States.

Saravan Rapaval's family-owned gas station in Woodbridge, Va., was hit by a thief who jerry-rigged a way into his pumps at night and then sold the gas at a discount while the station was closed.

"Since December we have lost a total of 15 to 17,000 gallons, which in turn has cost us close to $70,000," said Saravan's son, Love Rapaval.

"I bust my chops [here] daily, and to have a guy come in and try and make an easy penny is really aggravating."