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Gas thieves drill and drain tanks

Fence hasn't kept gas thieves out of car lot


This fenced car lot on Van Tyne Street, just a block off Midway Avenue, houses vehicles for Jess Ford's operation. A number of these vehicles have been targeted by fuel thieves who have been drilling fuel tanks. Thieves have gained entry into the area by cutting through the chain link fence. - Roger S. Lucas photo

Jess Ford of Grand Coulee has had 15 vehicles' fuel tanks drilled by thieves in the past four months.

Several of the tanks were drilled while inside a fenced-in storage area off Van Tyne Avenue, just a block off Midway, owner Wade Jess said Monday. Others were drilled while parked across the street from the Ford dealer's office.

The Van Tyne drilling incidents came in waves. "They would do two or three vehicles, and then wait a few weeks and do it again," Jess said.

Thieves would cut the wire on the chain link fence in place to secure the vehicles on Van Tyne. Then they would crawl under the vehicles and drill the tanks to get the fuel.

"In a couple of cases, we would patch the holes and they would come back and drill the tanks through the patches," Jess said.

All of the vehicles drilled were used vehicles, Jess explained.

On one occasion, the thieves must have been scared off because they left a gas can, Jess noted.

Police have stepped up their patrols in the area.

The drilled vehicles have to be taken to the shop, their tanks removed and then patched.

Jess said that the dealership's costs for plugging the drilled tanks runs about $400 each.

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