MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

May 24, 2013

Police seek help to stop gasoline thefts

Bandit drills holes in gas tanks to steal fuel inside

Muskogee police are asking for the public’s help to nab a bandit they believe is damaging vehicles in search of free gasoline.

Muskogee Police Investigator Rob Frazier said at least six vehicles have been found with holes drilled or punched in their gas tanks this week. The thefts have been in the Grandview and southern downtown areas, Frazier said. It’s possible that the theft is a coordinated, group effort and thieves are likely working at night. At times, only a few gallons are being stolen, usually from sport utility vehicles.

“The rest just spills out on the ground,” Frazier said.

Though gas is expensive, and prices are rising, the cost of repairs to the damaged vehicles is even more costly. Though its often just a small hole in the gas tank, police said some repair estimates have reached $1,500.   

“There are people living paycheck to paycheck,” said Investigator Lynn Hamlin. “And then to have to pay for something like this, it just makes me angry.”

Frazier said police don’t have a specific suspect, because no one has reported anything suspicious. To remedy that, Frazier recommends residents report to the police anyone they see in their neighborhood that looks suspicious or that they don’t recognize, particularly if they’re walking around with a gas can.

“We’d rather go out there and it be nothing and be not related to this, than to not go out there and have this person keep doing this,” Frazier said. “You’d think someone walking around late at night with a gas can would raise suspicions.”

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.

You can help

Anyone who believes they can help Muskogee police identify the person responsible for a string of gasoline thefts and vehicle damage in the Grandview and downtown Muskogee areas can call (918) 683-8000 or Muskogee Crime Stoppers at (918) 682-2677 to leave an anonymous tip.

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