ST. GEORGE, Utah - Spring traditionally brings warmer temperatures and higher gasoline prices as retailers switch to summer blends, but this year, officials are marking another change: more gasoline thefts, The Spectrum reports. For example, St. George has seen an uptick in criminal activity relating to gasoline theft, including siphoning fuel from car gas tanks.
"Because criminals may only be taking a little bit of gas at a time, people may not even know they are a victim of a gas crime," said Capt. James Van Fleet, public information officer with the city€™s police department.
Gasoline theft surged in 2008 when the national average reached $4.11 per gallon for regular unleaded, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. That convinced most U.S. gasoline retailers to switch to pre-pay, said Jeff Lenard, NACS spokesman.
"(This problem) has evolved considerably over the last few years and is really not much of an issue in most areas of the country since they went to prepay to eliminate the problem," said Lenard. "Smaller towns, especially in the Midwest, still may have stations that allow you to pump and then pay, but they are slowly fading away."
Many gasoline stations have had reports of customers discovering gasoline siphoned off while they were inside, Lenard said. Van Fleet recommends locking gas caps for consumers to deter gasoline theft.