NewsCrime and Courts


Gas theft is on the rise in Montana

Gas cap for vehicle
Fuel pump in Helena, Montana
Posted at 4:10 PM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 18:49:13-04

HELENA — Gas prices near record highs are making your car a target for thieves, but older cars with easy access to gas caps are not the only victims of gas thefts.

Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says that his agency is seeing an increase in calls for gas station drive-offs.

“This increase of thefts has been mainly having been drive-offs from gas stations, gas stations that do not have a prepay and depended on the honesty of citizens, are now being hit,” said Dutton.

Sheriff Dutton says that "pump and run schemes" usually leave behind fuel bills of between $20 and $40 dollars each time.

“It's an impact to a local businessperson, and right now, with the price of gas, this is going to increase, so you will see gas stations go to prepay,” he noted.

It can also impact your driver's license - if you are caught driving off without paying for fuel your license can be suspended.

Sheriff Dutton says due to higher prices, law enforcement is also seeing a rise in the siphoning of gas: “Generally, we deal with that every year, and we expect that to increase substantially with the price of diesel and the price of gas."

And if you have any gas tanks hanging around, Sheriff Dutton recommends locking them up: "Gas is going to be a hot commodity.”

Sheriff Dutton recommends parking in a well-lit area and investing in a locking gas cap.