Two Arizona residents and a nonprofit animal rescue organization were targeted by thieves on Thursday.
PHOENIX — Soaring gasoline prices have fueled a rise in gasoline thefts across the country, and reports of gasoline thefts from Arizonan’s vehicles are increasing.
“I was going about my day in complete innocence, with no fear of this happening to me,” Kim Wolfe said.
Wolfe is a home-based speech therapist and his job requires him to travel across the valley daily.
Before heading to her first visit on Thursday, she stopped at Costco near Priest and Elliot roads to fill up, followed by a quick stop at the Walmart store across the street.
Back on the road, she noticed something.
“My gas mileage, it was showing 86 miles, instead of a full tank it would be showing 400 miles,” she said.
Wolfe first thought her gauge had malfunctioned, so she stopped to inspect her gas tank. It was open. His gas had been siphoned off.
“I feel like someone saw I had a gas and took the opportunity to gas up rather than attempt a car that might not have had one,” said Wolfe, thinking she had been followed after refueling.
Wolfe’s car has a lock for the gas tank door. She believes the thieves used a tool to open it.
His car wasn’t damaged, but HALO Animal Rescue wasn’t.
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In less than two weeks, the HALO claims to have been targeted and its vans damaged.
Rescue personnel noticed that one of their vehicles had three holes drilled in its gas tank as they were about to drive to Mexico to retrieve 35 dogs that HALO hoped to find homes in the valley.
“Just on the 22nd, someone came and siphoned off gas,” said Heather Allen, the nonprofit’s president and CEO. “At least that time they were kind enough to only detach the hose from the tank, but that still left the tank unusable.”
Rescue surveillance cameras captured a suspect passing under one of the vans around 7.30pm that day. But the video isn’t clear enough to make out the suspect’s face.
“We know everyone is overwhelmed by the rising cost of fuel and can sympathize with someone’s sense of desperation, we just wish they didn’t harm others, and in our case animals. homeless pets and the people who care for them, to get their needs met,” Allen said.
HALO needs to spend at least $2,500 to fix the van and is asking for donations to help cover the expenses. You will find information on how to donate here.
Misty Wood, from Prescott, was another victim of gas targeting on Thursday.
“Basically, I’m paying for what they stole, and it sucks,” Wood said. “It’s very sad, very frustrating.”
“It just makes me sad that people are resorting to this,” she added. “I know things are bad for all of us right now, but man, it’s not good.”
RELATED: Phoenix Animal Rescue Says Thief Stole Gas By Drilling Holes In Van’s Tank
The police suggest the following to protect you from gas thieves.
• Buy a fuel cap lock
• Park in your garage or in a well-lit, high-traffic area
• If there are CCTV cameras around, park with your gas tank facing them