Vehicle co-op truck targeted in another city gas theft
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This article was published 17/03/2022 (450 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Winnipeg car-sharing co-operative had the fuel stolen from one of its vehicles last week — the latest in a string of bizarre thefts that city police call “very dangerous.”
Peg City Car Co-op fleet manager William Belford said a co-op member discovered the truck parked downtown that he intended to pick up was low on fuel.
“When they arrived at their vehicle, they noticed the aroma of gas and could see some melted snow by the side of the vehicle,” he said.
“When they hopped in and turned it on, they noticed the tank was nearly empty. At this point, they turned the vehicle off and they gave us a call because something wasn’t feeling quite right.”
Co-op staff quickly discovered two holes drilled into the gas tank — similar to at least three other thefts that occurred in the city last week.
One or more thieves drilled into the fuel tanks of three vans at Little People’s Place daycare on Cottonwood Road over the weekend of March 5-6, which staff discovered the following Monday. The daycare’s executive director, Carol Jones, speculated that record-setting gas prices could be behind the crime. Fuel was also stolen from a Transcona man’s pickup truck around the same time, CTV reported.
It appears thieves have used power tools or other means to drill into fuel tanks and siphon the gas, Winnipeg police spokeswoman Const. Dani McKinnon told the Free Press. That raises the risk of sparks flying, possibly igniting the extremely flammable liquid.
However, McKinnon said police aren’t calling the thefts a trend.
“Really, it’s a small handful… nothing that we’ve been able to grab data on,” she said. “These ones are tricky to investigate, unless there’s some really good surveillance video in the immediate area or on the building, and then, as well, asking for public assistance.”
Gas prices have spiked around the globe over the past three weeks, which analysts have tied to sanctions against Russia over its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, as well as inflation and world economies ramping up as they begin to emerge from the pandemic.
Around the time of the thefts, some Winnipeg gas stations posted prices as high as $1.89.9 per litre. The average price per litre in Manitoba has since dropped to $1.73.5, according to petroleum price analysis firm GasBuddy.
Belford said the theft was the first the co-op has seen since it began operations.
“This has never happened to us before. Modern vehicles, they have protections in place against siphoning via the gas cap, but unfortunately there’s no protection against this kind of act,” he said.
“We’ve seen pretty well everything there is to see with cars; we’ve been at it for 10 years, we’ve got 70 cars and they’re all throughout the city, but this particular issue — first time for everything.”
However, Belford said, a mechanic was able to source a new tank for the truck and install it within 48 hours, while the co-op driver was left without wheels for just 15 minutes while he rebooked another vehicle parked nearby.
“No harm, no foul,” he said.
Belford noted there are no plans to change internal policies to guard against any future gas thefts, but noted the co-op is looking to add additional hybrids to its fleet of vehicles this year, as well as eventually adding fully-electric cars once more charging infrastructure is in place across the city.
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.