Fuel Theft on the Rise

August 25, 2005--Posted at 11:00 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO-- Gas prices are making some turn to stealing.
 It's not just happening at the pump. There are places to get gas that aren't well-lit, and aren't in the middle of town .
Drivers across the country are in a pinch with gas prices on the rise, and here in Region Eight, some drivers are going to extremes.
Rick Guimond of the Jonesboro Police Department says, "This time last year we had 190 gas drive offs. This year we have about 240 gas drive offs so the rate has gone up."
The hike in gas prices could contribute to the increase in driveoffs, but some people are going to even more desperate measures to beat prices at the pump.
Lester Wilson has farmed land in Jonesboro for 30 years.
He's been hit hard by rising fuel prices this season, but fuel thieves are making his struggle even more difficult.
"We haul fuel out here and you come by and check your tank once every few days, and your fuel is gone," Wilson says.
With this season's drought and the high cost of fuel it takes to run his equipment, Wilson is spending more than he makes.
"Somebody's making a bad situation worse. We give $2 dollars a gallon, and when somebody comes and gets 200 gallons it's bad," Wilson says.
An even more harsh reality, the thieves could be other farmers desperate to make ends meet.
"It's gotta be somebody that can use off road fuel. Our fuel has a dye in it that makes it illegal for highway use," Wilson says.
 It looks like fuel thieves aren't the only ones feeling the desperation.
"There's not much you can do on a lonely gravel road, just do the best we can. It's a real sick feeling down in your stomach I can tell you, because it's the same feeling of someone breaking into your house, because this is our livelihood," Wilson says.