HOUSTON - Houston police are looking for thieves responsible for stealing more than 1,000 gallons of fuel from a local gas station.
For three straight days, investigators believe burglars stole roughly 350 gallons of diesel from the Fuqua Express in Southeast Houston. In total, roughly 1,100 gallons of fuel were taken.
"People are trying to make a buck," said Jerry Thayil, manager of Fuqua Express. "This is not the way to make a buck."
Police believe the burglars are using an elaborate method to take the fuel. On surveillance video, a lookout car can be seen at nearby gas pump. Then, a van parks over the station’s gas caps designed to store fuel underground.
Using a trap door, some sort of suction device, and a storage unit, investigators believe the thieves were able to quietly pump hundreds of gallons of diesel into their vehicle.
All three incidents took place in broad daylight. Thayil’s says paying customers nearby didn’t notice. The person responsible, or people, never get out of the van.
"You wouldn’t see anything," said Thayil. "There’s only an 8-inch clearance from the van, to the [ground]. They have a trap door inside their van. They pull up the trap door, break the lock of our tank cap, and insert a tube there and start the pump. It took them about 15 minutes to get roughly [350 gallons] of diesel."
The gas station is locally owned and operated by Thayil’s father. He estimates the stolen diesel to be worth more than $5,000.
On a fourth straight day last week, Thayil says the same group comes back to try another fuel burglary. However, Thayil had been watching surveillance video.
"Don’t try that over here again," said Thayil. "Give yourselves up."
Authorities are looking for at least four vehicles associated with the fuel thefts. If you have any information you’re urged to contact police.
"This stuff is happening right now," said Thayil. "Make sure you’re checking your inventory logs and your surveillance cameras. It can happen when you least expect it."