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Brazen gas thieves damage car in Mission Bay

A drill was used to puncture a Mission Bay woman's gas tank to siphon fuel.

SAN DIEGO — Over the last week, San Diego County has seen another increase in the price of gas.

A five-cent jump at the pump puts the average price of a gallon of unleaded at $5.85, which is $1.44 more than the national average.

"It's definitely not cheap right now," said Cindi Stratton, a resident of Mission Beach. "Gas is expensive, food is expensive. Waking up in the morning in San Diego is expensive these days."

When Stratton walked out to her Ford Ranger Monday morning, she found that she was running on empty. Stratton parks her car in a public lot across the street from Belmont Park in Mission Bay. When she noticed something strange when she took it to a gas station to fill up.

"All of a sudden, gas was just pouring all over the gas station," said Stratton. "I ran over, grabbed the pump out of the car and just sat there watching gas pour out the bottom of my car. I didn't really know what to do,"

When a mechanic was called, she realized that somebody had gone under her car, drilled a hole in the bottom of her gas tank and siphoned fuel with a hose. Leaving her on empty and a steep mechanic bill that could run her over $1,000 to fix the tank.

She filed a police report, but has not heard back from the San Diego Police Department.

For hardware, there are no options to preemptively prevent someone from drilling into your tank and taking the gas, but there are locks you can get for your gas cap.

Experts at AAA say that you should always park your car in a well-lit, indoor garage or somewhere with high foot traffic like along a city street.

While Stratton is frustrated with the steep bill and the hassle she had to go through, she still loves living in Mission Beach. Though she wants her neighbors to stay vigilant.

"It's not something that feels very good," said Stratton. "Unfortunately, I think we're seeing a lot of it in our beach communities up and down the county."

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