Thieves stealing gas from cars in Tennessee Valley - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Thieves stealing gas from cars in Tennessee Valley

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There's a warning for drivers in the Tennessee Valley to watch their gas tanks. Thieves are stealing gas from cars, hitting multiple people in different locations.

The thieves are cutting the "filler hose" beneath the car and siphoning out the gas. It only takes a few moments and they're doing it in very public places.

"They're making it look really easy," said Meggan Metier at the O'Reilly Auto Parts on Hixson Pike. "They're cutting them really smooth. I guess they're using a really sharp knife and it cuts right through the rubber."

Metier isn't used to sophisticated gas tank thefts, but as of late she says there's been multiple victims.

"Hamilton Place, East Ridge, the guy who works at our Soddy [Daisy] store has had three people out there," she said.

Metier says three customers at her O'Reillys store are victims too. One man was hit Wednesday while shopping at the Hixson Wal-Mart. A second man lost all his gas to the thieves while eating at the Hixson Pike Ryan's restaurant. And now, the latest victim is Burks United Methodist Church in Hixson.

Dagan Beckett is the communications director at Burks United Methodist Church. He hopes the thieves are "making good use" of the gas. Sometime late Friday night, the gas from two church vans and one church bus disappeared. It was nearly $300 in lost fuel.

"Our primary focus at the church is obviously to serve our community, so if we can supply gas to somebody that's fine," Beckett said.

Doug Bruggink is a mechanic and a member of the church. He's fixing the vans.

"I've always wondered why people would steal or take anything from anybody," he said.

Bruggink explained the process of stealing the gas.

"What they're doing is they're just going under here to this fuel line here and there's a rubber line -- I got my hand on it here -- and they're just cutting right through that, feeding whatever tool or gizmo they're using whether it's a pump or just a regular air siphon," he said.

One worker at O'Reilly Auto Parts demonstrated how quickly and easily the heist can be done. He cut the filler hose with a pocket knife in a matter of seconds.

Now Beckett has a message for the late night visitors to Burks United Methodist Church.

"We hope you enjoyed our church and we hope you can come back in the day sometime to spend some time with us," he said.

A manager at the local O'Reilly's Auto Parts tells Channel 3 there's been about a dozen victims across several O'Reilly stores in the past week. He says they're targeting mostly older Chevy trucks.

Chattanooga Police Public Information Officer Nathan Hartwig says he knows of recent incidents at the following locations: Exxon, 4004 Hixson Pike, Hi-Tech Healthcare, 1271 North Holtzclaw Ave, Walmart, 5764 Hwy 153 and Sticky Fingers, 2031 Hamilton Place Blvd.

No arrests have been made. If you have any information on these crimes, contact police immediately.


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