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Gas thieves targeting San Diego drivers

“We were walking down here and we smelled the gas, so I looked around and I could see this stream of gas coming down the street," said Richard Hughes

SAN DIEGO — Richard Hughes and his wife Patsy were walking along their usual route on 54th Street in Talmadge on Saturday morning when they noticed gasoline leaking out of a parked Toyota Tacoma truck.

“We were walking down here and we smelled the gas, so I looked around and I could see this stream of gas coming down the street and I looked under the car,” said Richard Hughes.

That’s when he realized where the gas was coming from.

“There was just a constant stream of gas, maybe a liter a minute, coming out of the bottom of the gas tank,” said Hughes.

“I looked and I smelled it too and I go, ‘Oh my, it’s really pouring out of there and down the street,’” said Patsy Hughes. “Any flame or any lighter could’ve just set it off.”

With gas leaking out of the truck all over the road, they decided to call authorities.

“We called 9-1-1 and they transferred us to the fire department,” said Richard. “Within 5 minutes, a fire truck was out here.”

A drill hole was found on the underside of the gas tank, which firefighters plugged up to stop the leak. They shoveled dirt to absorb the spilled gasoline and cleaned up the area as best they could. So far no suspects have been identified.

“They obviously didn’t empty the tank when they punctured it,” said Richard. “They probably took $10 worth of gas and caused over $1,000 worth of damage to the truck. It’s crazy.” 

In another one of Your Stories from last week, CBS 8 caught up with Mitch Munden, who had his car parked on 7th Ave in Hillcrest.

“From what I could see, it was coming out from right there. That’s where the gas tank is if you can see it there,” said Munden.

The tank on his Toyota 4Runner had been drilled from underneath, spilling gas everywhere and creating a costly repair.

“The total cost of the repairs was $1,345 for a new fuel tank and then all the wiring and what not that goes with it,” said Munden.

Because of what they saw happen on Saturday, Richard and Patsy won’t even park their cars on the street anymore.

“It’s just not safe to leave your car out here at night anywhere,” said Richard. “So we keep both our cars in the garage where it’s a tight squeeze.”

WATCH RELATED: San Diego police say gas theft crimes are on the rise | Here’s one Hillcrest resident’s experience (March 2022).

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