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Florida thieves transform minivan into tanker for stolen gasoline


Florida thieves transform minivan into tanker for stolen gasolineRising gas prices -- now topping $3.612 nationally, heading toward $4 -- are already starting to change behavior, and not always for the better. Exhibit A: A group of thieves in Tampa, Fla., who transformed a Chevrolet Venture minivan into a Mad Max-worthy collector of stolen gasoline.

According to Bay Area 9 and the Tampa Bay Times, the van pulled into a BP gas station around 1 a.m. Tuesday, parking over the fill spout for the in-ground tanks. Police say the interior of the van had been modified with a pump, tanks and a hole through the rear floor to surreptitiously siphon hundreds of gallons of gasoline in a matter of minutes.

The plan might have worked if a passing sheriff's deputy hadn't pulled into the station, causing the thieves to take flight in a separate vehicle, leaving their criminal Venture behind. Some of their stolen fuel spilled, requiring a hazardous materials team to clean up the aftermath. But Florida officials told reporters this is a "pretty typical way" of stealing large amounts of fuel.

Rising gas thefts are already being reported in other parts of the country,from Fresno, Calif., to Annapolis, Md., where a man faces charges after emptying a work van by drilling a hole in the tank, an increasingly common if dangerous method meant to circumvent the anti-siphoning valves in modern fuel tanks. It's not what's meant by calling for "increased domestic drilling."