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WICHITA, Kansas – At least two times this week, bad guys have drilled holes into gas tanks of cars and trucks to steal gas in Wichita.
“Is it the high cost of gas right now? I don’t know why they’re doing it,” says Lonnie Long who lives in south Wichita. “But It’s going to make my insurance go up. I’m filing a claim to get my truck fixed. Ruined my gas tank. You’d be surprised how much it costs to get a new gas tank.”
And it could have been costly for the thieves themselves. Drilling a hole in a gas tank is, apparently, a very bad idea. It could explode.
“They wouldn’t be able to escape,” says Dennis Marsh of Old Town Automotive. “You would have a flash. Everything around that flash will be on fire.”
Marsh says it appears the thieves were allowing the gas to drain out of the drill holes. And, he says, gas splashing into a container could get ugly.
“About a foot to two feet, gasoline dropping that far can generate enough static electricity that it can self ignite,” explains Marsh. “All it needs is an ignition source. Any time you have a dry environment and you have enough static electricity discharge built up, that’s enough to ignite.”
Lonnie says the stolen gas is the second time he’s been hit by thieves. About a month ago his car was stolen.
“But, the cops found it. And the crook,” explains Lonnie. “I said, well, where is the guy at? The officer, he said, well, we took him to jail. Selling drugs.”
Lonnie says he has since put a theft lock on his steering wheel as a deterrent. But he says he has no way to stop criminals from stealing his gas.
“If they are going to drill for gas, I guess they will drill. Not much I can do about it.”
Police say they have two different reports and are checking to see if the instances are related.