Rising gas prices correlate with reports of rising gas theft, experts say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As gas prices continue to rise, so have reports about gas theft, either through stolen credit cards, or straight out of the tank.

Michelle Severns said she left her Jeep with half a tank of gas Saturday, but when she got into it Sunday it was empty. She believes someone stole her gas.

"I guess you see a Jeep, you see a big possible gas tank and opportunity," she said.

Severns has cameras on the front of her home, but the driveway is on the side and she didn't get video of the theft. Still, she left and immediately got a new gas cap with a lock on it.

With gas prices soaring, experts say it's not surprising to see gas being stolen. In some cases thieves are stealing at the pump, often using stolen credit cards or getting it from the underground tanks.

Other times, they steal directly from cars by siphoning it out or drilling a hole in the tank.

AAA said gas theft has become more common around the country. They suggest parking in a garage if you have one to avoid gas being stolen from your car at home. Away from home, they suggest parking in a well-lit area with high traffic, and when in a public garage parking near an exit or elevator where there is more foot traffic.

"It's unfortunate people would do this, that's why we have these tips to make sure you're not a victim of this," said Molly Hart, AAA spokesperson.

Criminologists say there's a correlation between inflation and crime in general.

"As we shift the economic reality, I predict crime is going to go up. It's going to be more serious," said Alex Del Carmen, PhD, criminologist at Tarleton State University.

AAA predicts gas prices will remain unstable, which means gas will continue to be a target for thieves.
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