Neighbors vigilant after gas thefts

Staff writer

Nikki Reid thought she was crazy after her fiancé, Jessy Thouvenell, filled up their vehicles one night only to find them empty the next morning. She wasn’t crazy — someone had stolen the gas from their tanks.

“It makes you think, ‘Did I put gas in there?’” she said. “Was I really that low?”

A couple of weeks ago, Thouvenell put gasoline into two vehicles one night before heading home. When he woke the next morning both vehicles were empty, even though they had sat in the driveway on N. Cedar St. all night.

“At first we thought we had a leak somewhere,” Reid said. “But there was no gas on the ground and it didn’t smell like gas. It stunk because we put gas in the vehicles just the night before.”

They suspected someone had stolen gas out of their vehicles overnight, but they didn’t tell the police because they thought it was an isolated incident.

“It wasn’t that much gas, probably only about $30 worth, so I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, just someone desperate who needed the gas and couldn’t afford it,” she said.

Last week, she found out several of her neighbors have had gas stolen during the past several weeks.

“Ida French, who lives near us, said she thought it had happened to her, and our neighbor, Herb Stoffer, who lives a block down from us on Sherman St., said it had happened to him,” Reid said. “What they took from us wasn’t much but from so many, it adds up to a lot.”

She said now that she knows it wasn’t an isolated case she’s contacted Marion Police.

Police Chief Tyler Mermis said this is the first time he has heard of people siphoning gas out of tanks this year, but he has received reports of it years past.

“When things like this happen around town, people need to contact us so we’re aware of problems and can increase patrols in those areas,” he said.

Police can use the reports to discover patterns of when and where gas is being stolen to improve the chances of catching whoever is behind the thefts.

“Everyone needs to be aware,” Mermis said. “If they think there’s suspicious activity or hear something around their property, call us and we’ll check it out.”

He said he is increasing patrols around the area in hopes of catching the perpetrator.

Meanwhile, Reid said several neighbors are considering getting locking gas caps. The caps are expensive, but will keep expensive gas from disappearing into someone else’s tank.

“We might get one,” she said, “but I shouldn’t have to. People just shouldn’t steal.”

She said now that she knows this is a problem, she and other neighbors have agreed to keep an eye on one another’s property.

“You don’t think things like this would happen in a small town, but I guess when people get desperate enough anything can happen,” she said. “What’s sad is if the person was desperate enough for gas I would have given them money for it, or at least a ride.”

 

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