Mobile gas station manager issues warning after thieves try to break into tank
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - With prices so high, some folks might be tempted to try to steal gas. But that can be dangerous – and land you in jail.
Clint Brown, the district manager with responsibility for RaceWay stores from Pensacola to Houston, is sounding the alarm after thieves hit a store on U.S. 90 south of Interstate 10. It happened at about 2 a.m. on June 29 when the store was closed. Thieves tried to pry open the tanks where the station stores its gasoline and siphon away the lucrative fuel.
“It was several guys that showed up and attempted to avert the fuel tanks and take gas from that,” he told FOX10 News.
Police made two arrests – 51-year-old Robert Wayne Bexley and 43-year-old Brandon Dewayne Eicholtz. They both been charged with misdemeanor theft and face arraignments next month in Mobile Municipal Court.
It is far from the most serious offense, but it can be dangerous. Surveillance video last month showed a man catching on fire as he tried to drill into a truck’s gas tank in Utah. A spark ignited, and the thief ended up rolling on the pavement to put out the flames.
“Best case scenario, you know, they’re gonna get caught and end up in jail,” Brown said. “And, you know, worst case scenario could be loss of life, you know, because it’s very dangerous to tamper with any type of gas structure whether it be tanks or pumps. explosion potential.”
Mobile police told FOX10 News that the RaceWay theft attempt is an outlier. But Brown said it is becoming more frequent in Florida. He added that he fears its spreading west.
Brown offered one other word of caution: There’s more than a risk that thieves may blow themselves up. Stolen gas, he said, is not reliable. He said thieves typically do not store the fuel in containers approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“For example, the ones that I was told that this was taken in, was several gallons of water was in the tanks that they filled up,” he said. “So if this would have got out in the community, it could have damaged a lot of cars.”
Technology has put a virtual end to a gas theft problem that plagued stations in the 1980s and 1990s – gas drive-offs. People would gas up and then speed away without paying. Brown and Mobile police Cpl. Katrina Frazier said that largely is a thing of the past now that drivers generally need credit cards to unlock the pumps.
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