DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit police say two men are in custody after they tried using a homemade contraption to steal hundreds of dollars worth of gas from a station on the city’s west side.
The unusual theft occurred early Wednesday morning at the BP Gas Station on Grand River Avenue along the Southfield Freeway service drive, just south of Fenkell Street.
Police say the men pulled up in a green, full-size van and used some sort of contraption that went through the bottom of the vehicle and into one of the underground tanks to syphon off gas.
An officer who was on patrol in the area noticed the van was parked in an odd position and decided to investigate further. Upon further inspection, it was clear that tubes were running out of the bottom of the van and into the underground tank’s cover.
Fire Battalion Chief John Slavik told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas the crooks were able to lift about 125 gallons of gas — and with fuel prices hovering above $4 a gallon, the total loss could be over $500.
“It’s a 250 gallon waste oil recovery tank that they use at restaurants to recover used oil and recycle it. Then, they hooked up two small pumps, and they had a hole cut in the van where they could lower a hose down into the underground tank of the gas station. They had it over half full, so that’s how we know there’s about 125 gallons in the tank right now,” he said.
Two men found inside the van were arrested without incident. Slavik said he doesn’t think this is the first time the thieves have pulled off this type of crime.
“It looks pretty sophisticated. It looks like they know what they were doing,” he said.
Police are waiting until the gas is removed from the vehicle before they can tow it away from the scene and re-open the station.
The Fire Department and HAZMAT crews also responded to the scene. An investigation is ongoing.