Petrol stations have gotten wise to would-be thieves by requiring pre-payment to start the pumps. This has likely diminished the number of people driving away with a full tank of stolen petrol, but thieves will often look for new opportunities when one ends. In Texas, USA thieves have resorted to fashioning MPVs with trap doors to siphon fuel straight from a petrol station's underground storage tanks.
This happened three days in a row to Houston petrol station Fuqua Express, according to KHOU 11. Jerry Thayil, whose family owns the business, told the news station that he found a discrepancy that led him to comb through the store's surveillance footage. It's there that he noticed something strange – an MPV, which looks like a Chrysler Town & Country, would park over the tanks' fill ports for 15 to 20 minutes and then drive off.
According to Thayil, the suspects stole the fuel through a trap door in the bottom of the Chrysler, using a pump to get it into the van. The fill ports are locked, so it's unclear how the thieves gained access, though Thayil believes they were using their own locks. He spoke with Houston police just hours before the van returned for a fourth time to steal from the station. He noticed the van was parked there, and he chased after it.
The thieves got away with about 1,000 gallons (3,785 litres) of diesel from the store over three days, stealing about 350 gallons (1,325 litres) a day. This theft has cost the store about $5,000 (approx. £4,200), and it doesn't appear as if the thieves were working alone. Thayil also noticed a lookout vehicle in the surveillance footage – a black Porsche – parked to hide the MPV's illegal act.
Sadly, Fuqua Express isn't the only Houston petrol station dealing with thieves at the moment. Last night, different thieves stole over $8,000 (£6,730) from a different Chevron petrol station, getting away with 1,754 gallons (6,640 litres) of diesel fuel. According to police, the suspects were operating multiple vehicles for their operation, but law enforcement didn't provide much more information about the incident beyond that.