(NewsNation) — Reports of gasoline thefts are on the rise across the country as prices at the pump have spiked to new records.
It’s not a surprise that gasoline crimes have gone up as gas prices in some areas of the country are soaring over $7 per gallon.
The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline shot up a whopping 79 cents over the past two weeks to a record-setting $4.43 per gallon.
The price at the pump is $1.54 higher than it was a year ago.
Stacy Houston learned about the surge in gas thieves the hard way in Las Vegas. She went to work and all her company’s work trucks were on ‘E’. The gas was stolen.
“We came in to go, and when one did not work they jumped in the other and then another and realized all were out of gas,” Houston said. “And they are huge one is a 14-foot box truck so that is like $200 in gas.”
According to one report, brazen thieves targeted a family-owned gas station in Houston, Texas using a “trap door in their vehicle” to suck out gasoline stored underground before it even hit the pump.
In Atlanta, a man was arrested after police say at least 10 victims woke up to find holes drilled in their cars’ gas tanks and all the gas gone.
Plus, replacing a gas tank is not cheap.
According to Victor Botnari with Universal Motorcars, “this could be like $2,000 or $3,000 easy with some of the cars,”
Some of the thieves are known to store the stolen gas in enormous plastic storage tanks inside cargo vans. It’s so dangerous — and flammable — that police have referred to the vans as “rolling bombs.”
Americans are finding interesting ways to protect the new hot commodity.
One photo circulating on social media shows someone using a padlock to secure their tank.
Police are advising drivers to buy locking gas caps to prevent thieves from siphoning gas while their car is left unattended.
The locking caps usually cost less than $20 and can be found at many auto parts stores.
“Most cars you can’t get to the gas tanks now by just popping them open,” Nash Country, North Carolina Sheriff Keith Stone said. “You have to go into the car and manually unlock the gas cap. That is probably the most wise thing to do is make sure your car is locked.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.