As gas prices rise, so are fuel thefts - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

As gas prices rise, so are fuel thefts

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PENDLETON, Ore. -- Call it a sign of the times, with rising gas prices, the Umatilla County Sheriff's office is noticing a rise in gas thefts, primarily the siphoning of gas from farmers and truckers, and the office doesn't see the problem going away anytime soon.

"Traditionally, they've been able to trust everybody and just kind of leave their equipment alone and nobody will mess with it. But with the cost of fuel and everything also, people are helping themselves and taking the easy way and stealing from their neighbor," explains Lieutenant Glen Diehl of the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies are currently investigating a handful of incidents where a number of people, primarily farmers, have been the victim of fuel stolen from tractors and other vehicles. The incidents began early this year when gas started to increase. A John Deer dealership is already seeing its customers asking for more options in protection.

"Occasionally we get these style of locks right here, we do have a lot of people coming in and occasionally looking for these on their smaller tractors that are kind of a little more out in the open, unlike these ones that are a little more threatening to come up and take fuel out of," says John Deer salesman Travis Norton.

The sheriff's office says the thieves are cutting holes in the tanks on tractors and trucks and siphoning the fuel. While the number of thefts is low, they expect the number to increase heading into the spring and summer. In the meantime, the office says stay alert.

"Get to know your neighbors, let your neighbors know when you're going to be gone so when they see a vehicle going down your driveway at an odd time of night they know nobody is supposed to be there and reach out and the contact the authorities," says Diehl.

The Sheriff's office only expects as the price continues to rise, so will the problem of  gas thefts.