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Gas thieves steal nearly 1,000 gallons of fuel, police say

October 5, 2012 | 10:59 am

Police in the Northern California city of Roseville are looking for gasoline thieves who struck two stations, taking nearly 1,000 gallons of the increasingly expensive fuel.

All of the gas was stolen earlier this week from a Shell station near the Roseville Square shopping center. But a few days earlier, thieves had made made an unsuccessful attempt at a 76 station a few blocks away, Fox40 in Sacramento reported.

According to the manager of the Shell station, a man in a black pickup pumped 300 gallons of gas, some of it going to a tank in the pickup's bed. It happened at about 1:30 a.m. when the convenience store was closed.

But security cameras caught the thief using a credit card. The pump's meter was somehow disabled, and the manager had to check records to show that the gas was stolen.

The same thieves came back during store hours twice more, taking 350 gallons on both occasions. Each time, there was no indication behind the counter that gas was being pumped. The station sells regular for about $4.40 a gallon.

"They knew what they were doing. They got around it, not once but three times," said station manager Tony Sandhu.

The last time, Sandhu's wife was ready for them despite an attempt by a woman in the truck to distract her. She got a license plate number.

At the 76 station, a padlock on a pump was cut after hours. But the station manager said the pumps' electrical supply are cut off at closing time and the thieves left empty-handed. Roseville police don't know if it was the same thieves who struck the Shell station.

"They should be caught. I don't know if we'll get the money back, but they should go to jail," said Sandhu.

Skyrocketing gasoline prices caused some local service stations to shut off their pumps Thursday while others shocked customers with overnight price increases of 30 cents or more.

California's fuel industry isn't running out of gasoline — supplies are only 2.5% lower than this time last year — but recent refinery and pipeline mishaps sent wholesale prices to all-time highs this week. As a result, some station owners weren't buying fuel for fear they couldn't sell it. Those who did buy simply kicked prices higher and bet customers would understand.

Many stations closed their pumps as soon as they ran out of the fuel they'd bought more cheaply. Some owners worried that if they paid the current wholesale price, they would be stuck selling that gas at a loss when prices fell.

Several Costco gas stations, including those in Marina del Rey, Tustin and Inglewood, closed Thursday. A manager in Inglewood said the only nearby Costco outlets that hadn't run out of gas were in Hawthorne and Torrance.

A sign at one Costco apologized: "We do not know when we will be resupplied."


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-- Fox40 Sacramento & Los Angeles Times