Police investigating rash of gas siphoning cases in NE Portland

Police investigating rash of gas siphoning cases in NE Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. -  It's a crime as old as the automobile, only this time the man siphoning gas is caught on camera.

Employees at a Northeast Portland business say he's hit several times in just the last couple of weeks, and while it may seem like a petty crime it can get expensive pretty quickly, especially with the price of gas so high right now.

Victims may not realize they've even been hit because the thieves can quickly get a hose in a gas tank, siphon a little bit and leave before they're seen.

It's happened over and over again at a few businesses near the airport. West Coast Paper got surveillance video of the suspect's blue van backing into a parking spot after employees started noticing the problem a couple weeks ago. The driver of that van couldn't be seen siphoning the gas in the video, but when employees went out to their cars their tanks were a lot lower than when they parked.

The incidents are significant enough that Portland police have a detective assigned to the case and are investigating.

"With gas prices, it's seemingly on the rise, we do see more of this kind of crime," said Portland Police Bureau spokesman Lt. Robert King. "Obviously, it's a crime of opportunity. We are asking people if you believe you are a victim of it to contact the police."

King said many times people don't even realize they have had gas siphoned. Even cars with gas doors that lock from the inside are vulnerable because thieves can pop the doors open fairly easily. Victims just notice that it seems like their last fill-up went quickly.

The siphoning suspect in the West Coast Paper case was driving a 1992 Dodge Caravan with Oregon license plate 712-BLV.

The van was last registered to a man who told KATU News he sold it eight months ago with the license plates on it.

According to police, the best defense is pretty simple – buying a locking gas cap. They are pretty inexpensive, costing less than $15.