By David Williams, CNN
The manager of a family gas station in Houston, Texas, chased suspected thieves who he said had already taken more than a thousand gallons of diesel fuel from the store’s underground tanks in separate incidents.
Jerry Thayil, whose father owns the Fuqua Express station, told CNN the robbers hit the station three days in a row last week and got away with between $5,000 and $6,000 worth of fuel.
They tried a fourth time on Friday, but Thayil ran after them. Surveillance video shows him running in the store’s parking lot as a dark-colored van drives away.
“I didn’t want to just let them hit us again and lose another $1,200, $1,300,” he said. “So I decided to do something about it and rushed over there and chased them away.”
The thefts come as US police warn drivers to take action to protect their vehicles from potential petrol thieves as fuel prices reach historic highs.
Thayil said he noticed discrepancies in fuel levels at the station on Wednesday and Thursday.
He scanned the station’s security footage and saw a dark minibus park above the lids covering the opening of the station’s tanks on the days the fuel went missing.
Thayil said the van was apparently fitted with a hatch so occupants could access the tank and pump fuel out of sight. They were able to get away with 300 to 350 gallons of diesel fuel at a time, he said.
“We’re a family business, so every penny counts here,” he said. “We support 11 employees who work here. They have their own family, so we don’t want to let them down.
The Houston Police Department is investigating the incident. A police spokesperson told CNN they have not seen an increase in gasoline thefts, despite exorbitant prices.
Thayil said it was the first time his station had faced fuel thefts. He said the company was talking with its insurance company to see if the thefts were covered.
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