Gas thefts on the rise in Red Deer: RCMP

A string of gas thefts have been reported in Red Deer and other cities in the province, police say rising gas prices could be a factor.

On April 5, in the early hours of the morning, surveillance footage captured a truck approaching and parking outside Home Theatre Solutions in Edmonton.

The occupants exited the truck carrying a gas can and a drill. After a few moments one of the occupants can then be seen walking back to the truck with a can full of gas.

He loads it onto the bed of the truck, and the two individuals drive off.

In recent weeks, this type of gas theft is becoming more common in the province.

Since March 22, Red Deer RCMP have received 14 reports of gas tanks drilled in to, or gas lines cut, for the purpose of stealing gasoline

“These tend to be crimes of opportunity that happen in dimly lit areas of the city,” said Francois Nadeau with Red Deer RCMP’s Community Policing Unit.

The vehicles that are being targeted are usually pickup trucks or SUVs due to their higher ground clearance which allows thieves access to the gas tank.

Nadeau said rising gas prices and a need to fuel stolen cars may be the motivation for these crimes.

“It appears that a lot of this is happening in tandem with rising gas prices, so that could be a factor,” said Nadeau.

“Also, in my experience, perpetrators tend to have a harder time fueling stolen vehicles because of pay at the pump legislation, so they may be looking for easy ways to fuel those stolen vehicles.”

A vehicle repair shop in Red Deer told CTV News that it has replaced two gas tanks in the past week. The cost of replacing a gas tank is upwards of $2000.

The City of Red Deer’s wastewater superintendent Geoff Stewardson said on top of the costs for victims, the spills associated with these gas thefts are expensive for the city.

“Lots of times people don’t know that their gas tank has been drilled out, and so they get into their vehicle and drive away, and they spread that gasoline all across the streets, and so it’s a far more challenging spill, environmentally, to clean up, so it’s a lot more costly as well.”

Stewardson said there is also a cost to the environment. If the gasoline gets into the storm drain, it eventually can enter our waterways.

“Sometime what happens though, especially this time of year with the snow melt, the snow melt will carry that fuel down the street and it enters the catch basin and from the catch basin it goes straight to the Red Deer River untreated,” said Stewardson.

“It affects the environment, so it will affect the fish, it will affect the plants, and it affects the downstream users as well.”

The police recommend the public take the following steps to deter criminals:

  • Park in well lit areas.
  • When possible, park in a garage or secure area.
  • Ensure any home security cameras are operational and register your camera with Red Deer RCMP’s CAPTURE registry.

The registry helps police to identify suspects if a crime occurs, and registrants are given decals to ensure unwanted visitors are made aware of surveillance cameras in the area.

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