Besides dealing with an expensive product and desperate customers, gas station owners now face another consequence of soaring California gas prices: gas thieves.
Thieves stole about 1,100 gallons of gas, worth more than $4,500, from a Shell station in Roseville, Calif., coming back at least three times last week, disabling the pump's meter and pumping the gas into a tank in their truck bed. Eventually, an employee took down the license plate number of the black pickup. Roseville Police told ABC News that they have arrested a male suspect but are still seeking a female suspect. About 100 gallons of gas was recovered and returned to station manager Tony Sandhu.
"They knew what they were doing. They got around it, not once but three times," Sandhu told ABC News. "I don't know if we can recover that money or not, but at least those people should go to jail."
Gas prices in California hit a record high of an average $4.655 a gallon on Sunday, as a result of 10-year lows in supply and high wholesale prices due to pipeline and refinery problems.
Beleaguered gas station owners have tried different options for dealing with the price issue, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some closed when they ran out of the fuel they bought at lower prices, others were not buying fuel for fear that they couldn't sell it before prices fell, and others just increased prices and passed costs along to the consumers.
Though some price relief is expected this week, the average price of gas could first climb as high as $4.85, Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, told the Associated Press.
Gas thieves have emerged as high gas prices coincide with a tough economy. In March, thieves funneled thousands of dollars of gas from an underground tank into their fake bread delivery truck at a Sacramento, Calif., gas station. From Washington to Hawaii to North Carolina, thieves have siphoned gas from rental trucks, leaving business owners with the losses.
Even with the police on their case, the Roseville Shell station is suffering from more than just one hit to business. Cory Cookson, another employee of the Shell station, told KCRA News, "Now we turn off the pumps at night so no one can even purchase gas at night, which is also going to hurt us because now we don't get any gas sales during the night."
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