By: Melina Matthes
OMAHA (kptm) - It can happen to anyone, anywhere. Thieves siphoning your gas tank, but in the Hanscom park area several tanks were cut into and drained. It's extremely dangerous and could cause a spark.
"An overwhelming smell of fuel, as soon as I walked out of the house, you can tell that something's not right it smelled like a gas station," victim Chris Prine says.
Two of Prine's trucks were targeted over the weekend. Gas siphoned out of the tanks. But the thieves didn't take it the way you would think. They crawled under the trucks and drilled a hole directly into the tank. "It was everywhere, it looked like a gigantic puddle underneath the vehicle," Prine says.
Don Velander is a service advisor with Jones automotive. He says this type of vandalism is something he sees far too often. "Ya these boneheads they'll go in and drill a hole and they'll just let it drain out."
He warns victims to not make repairs themselves. The exposed tank is a hazard and should be safely and correctly drained. "Adhesives simply will melt off of there, the problem will reoccur, don't run a screw in there to try and slow it down, simply get a catch can under it to catch any fuel should it come out and have the tank removed and properly repaired," Velander says.
If you notice your fuel tank has been tampered with, he says the worst possible thing you could do is start your vehicle and that's because he says this whole thing is full of gas and not only is the liquid extremely flammable, there's also vapors and fumes that you can't see. "If you go to try and drive your vehicle, it can slosh the fuel around, it leaks on the outside and it's not just a smelly mess. It is a severe fire hazard, you'll engulf the whole car in mere seconds," Velander says.
Prine says more people could have been hit. But thanks to one of his watchful neighbors who saw something suspicious and called police only a few were targeted. "I'm glad that we live in such a good neighborhood and we have such good neighbors that we all kind of look out for each other but it's unfortunate, this kind of thing happens anywhere in the city, but it's just a bad deal."
Officer James Shade says, "there's not a lot you can do to protect yourself against that other than maybe parking in a well lit area, under a street light or possibly having a car alarm sometimes helps."
But Shade agrees with Prine. He says one of the best ways to protect yourself and others is to just keep an eye on the neighborhood. "Be a little more vigilant. Look out for your neighbors and look out for yourselves," Shade says.
Prine says the community is planning to start a neighborhood watch. Police have not arrested anyone yet, but they urge anyone with information to call crime stoppers at 402-444-stop.
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