SHERMAN, Texas (CBS Houston) — As the cost of gas goes higher, authorities throughout the United States are on the lookout for those trying to save by siphoning fuel for free. While it might seem an easy way to save money in a pinch, though, it’s a dangerous practice.
“In addition to the health hazards of inhaling or ingesting gas, which is extremely poisonous and a lung irritant, there is … a fire danger,” Sherman Fire Chief JJ Jones told CBS Houston. “It is extremely flammable, and the vapors travel a long distance. It doesn’t take much to spark them.”
In most cases, a tube is used to pull the gas out of a larger reservoir and into a smaller container. To make the gas flow, suction is usually applied orally.
Hazardous or not, gas siphoning is a story playing out in various ways across the nation.
Two people in Tampa, Fla., attempted to siphon gas late last month by rigging their van specially for after-hours fuel theft.
“They cut a hole in the bottom of the van,” Hillsborough Sheriff’s Capt. Andy Ross explained to Gas Buddy. “They installed a plastic bladder tank in the van and they have a pump system.”
Were local authorities not nearby, the two men would have gotten away with stealing the gas. As it was, around 25 gallons was spilled and wasted, with hazardous material teams and bomb squads called in to clean up the mess.
As desperation rises in tandem with gas costs, the likelihood of siphoning increases.
On March 9, the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report showed regular gas selling at a national average of $3.76 per gallon. Their statistics show increases from both the same time last year, last month and last week.