High prices blamed for resurgence in a crime that hasn’t been common recently
Diesel fuel disappeared from several trucks parked in Wayne County over the weekend of June 25-26. A local man is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to suspects.
On June 28, Greens Fork-area farmer Tim Crossley reported on social media that “someone sucked 80 gallon of fuel out” of a truck that he had parked at 211 S. Main St. in Greens Fork. Another 35 gallons was taken from a second truck.
Nearby, two trucks parked by a contractor along South Main and an excavator parked at the Greens Fork fire station had fuel stolen, according to Rick Stewart, a Greens Fork Town Council member.
“There’s only 400 of us in town,” Stewart said. “When a dog barks, everyone knows, so it’s hard to believe no one saw any of this.”
A few miles east, at Greens Fork Alignment, 2441 Centerville Road, owner Joe Nocton reported that fuel had been stolen from two Chevy trucks parked there over the weekend. The company’s security cameras didn’t catch the perpetrators on video.
“They crawled underneath and cut the fuel hose off at the tank and siphoned 60 to 70 gallons,” he said.
It’s the first time in several years that his business has experienced this kind of theft. It seems to happen when fuel prices rise. Diesel fuel prices have increased greatly in the past year. A gallon of diesel fuel cost just over $6 in Indiana on average last week, compared to about $3.30 a year ago.
Wayne County Sheriff Randy Retter said these incidents are the only ones recently reported. “But with the extremely high cost of fuel, we expected this to happen.” He recalled a rash of fuel thefts several years ago when the price of gasoline went from about $1.50 to $3.25 in the space of several months. In addition to siphoning, gas stations experienced a lot of walk-offs: people who would drive off without paying for their gas.
“That’s why you have to prepay now,” Retter said.
Greens Fork Alignment not only lost the fuel but Nocton also had to order replacement parts for overnight delivery and install them, so it was more expensive than replacing the fuel.
While neither Crossley nor Nocton had a clue about who did it, Crossley said his son saw a truck that raised his suspicions parked at a restaurant at I-70 and State Road 1 on the Thursday before the thefts. His son didn’t think much of it until after the thefts.
Crossley said his son described a very rough Dodge dually diesel truck with three transfer tanks in the bed pulling a trailer with another four transfer tanks. Farmers use transfer tanks for taking fuel from their storage tanks to vehicles in the field. Each holds 90 to 110 gallons.
“There’s no reason for anybody to have that many transfer tanks,” he said. “Whoever is stealing this fuel has got to have storage.”
Nocton said it’s possible that whoever stole the fuel at his store could have come off of I-70 and then disappeared back on the interstate afterward.
Crossley has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the people responsible for the thefts. “I’d gladly pay that for information about whoever did this.”
Retter said there isn’t a lot people can do to prevent fuel theft except try to park in well-lighted areas or inside a secure building. “The best thing is to make the vehicle completely inaccessible.” Locking gas caps also deter some thieves.
Nocton said, “It’d be nice to catch some of these people and make them work for a living instead of stealing from those of us who do.”