As gas prices rise, here’s how thieves are stealing fuel in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As Oregon pump prices draw closer to the five-dollar mark, the Portland Police Bureau told KOIN 6 News they have received at least five reports of gas theft within less than three months. 

Because stealing gas falls under the much larger categorization of “theft from a vehicle,” police said the number of incidents shared may not account for all reports of fuel theft received by the bureau.

“The issue is that we process many crime reports every day, and this exact crime is not something we keep a running tally of,” a PPB spokesperson said in an email to KOIN 6 News. “But I certainly would not be surprised if there wasn’t some reaction to the rise in prices.”

As of Friday, AAA reported the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Oregon would cost about $4.702, much steeper than the national average of $4.274 per gallon. 

The price of gas is even higher in Portland, as that same gallon of regular unleaded would cost rose city residents an average of $4.793.

Since January, PPB received five reports of gas theft incidents in the city. And although the bureau does not classify that a major spike, the unique and extreme measures criminals are taking in an attempt to steal fuel shows a level of desperation. 

According to PPB, on Jan. 11, “someone drilled into the gas tank of a car parked in the parking lot of a grocery store,” off Hawthorne Boulevard.

A similar incident was reported to police on Feb. 19, when a suspect cut their way through a “cyclone fence” that surrounded a business, only to drill into the tanks of four company vehicles, depleting them entirely overnight. 

On March 4, police told KOIN 6 News a vehicle that had allegedly been stolen in Portland was later found by Vancouver Police, but “the vehicle’s gas line had been cut and drained.”

Less than a week later, PPB said a local car dealership reported a person “ground off the lock on their gas pump control and turned it on so he could fill his tank.” According to police, this incident took place in the early hours of the morning on March 10. 

Just two days after the previous gas theft incident, police said a man "reported his work truck gas had been siphoned at a loss of at least $300,” on March 12.

However, PPB said the victim told the agency that the incident had happened to him several times before, even prior to the gas price spike.

Based on the reports provided by PPB, it is unclear whether Portland is experiencing a rise in gas theft prices as seen in other large metropolitan areas or not. 

While police said they do not think the incidents could be called an "uptick," the reports do reveal a stark decrease in the number of days between gas theft attempts in recent weeks.

With three fuel theft incidents reported within a 10-day period in March alone, time will tell whether Portland is currently in the midst of a spike.

Source: KOIN.com

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