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As the price of gas soars, some fill up by stealing it

Gas theft reported across the country
Gas theft reported across the country as prices soar 04:10

Gas prices across the U.S. are so high that some people are stealing fuel from service stations to fill up their own vehicles or resell it to other motorists. 

Members of a criminal ring in Tampa, Florida, were arrested last month after six men stole $60,000 worth of fuel from gas stations in the area, according to local authorities. And in Duncan, Texas, thieves have targeted the same station at least a dozen times since gas prices skyrocketed. 

Similar thefts have been reported across the U.S., as Russia's ongoing war on Ukraine continues to drive up gas prices to the frustration of motorists, according to CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave.

Thieves use a key that can be found on the internet to tinker with the pump so it releases fuel without payment. They pry open the pump and take as much fuel as they want, Van Cleave reported. The thieves in Texas made off with hundreds of gallons of stolen fuel at a time, a maneuver they repeated over and over under the cover of night. 

By using a device to bypass the pump's credit card reader and release the gas without payment, they were able to steal more than $7,000 worth of gas, according to the station's owner.

"Bomb on the road"

The owner of a gas station in Houston, Texas, believes he was targeted by someone in a minivan equipped with a trap door who parked the vehicle over underground storage tanks and sucked up more than $5,000 worth of stolen gas, according to Van Cleave. 

"It's extremely common. We know that this is happening," said Dallas police Sergeant Richard Santiesteban. 

Some motorists are stealing gas to fill up their own tanks. Others are trucking hundreds of gallons to their homes and operating illegal gas stations, where they sell the stolen gas at a discount. 

But transporting large quantities of fuel is itself a risk. 

"It's an actual bomb that's on the road and this is very volatile. It's extremely dangerous," Santiesteban said. 

Biden taps U.S. oil reserve to ease gas prices 03:47

Criminals are also targeting parked cars. While most new vehicles have stoppers that prevent criminals from siphoning fuel from tanks through the main valve, thieves get underneath the vehicles and drill holes directly into fuel tanks. 

Atlanta, Georgia, resident Nick Trujillo didn't realize he was a victim of gas theft until he tried to refill his tank. 

"I was driving to go pick up food and stopped at the gas station. I started filling up with gas and the gas is just spewing everywhere. I got underneath the car and looked at it and there was a hole underneath the gas tank," he told CBS News. 

In light of such incidents, AAA recommends that drivers park their cars in garages or secure parking areas.

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