KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There’s a new warning about a crime that some are linking to the high price of gas, and metro police departments said there are a few cases of it happening in the Kansas City-area.

Overland Park and Independence police said they’ve recently taken reports of thieves drilling into vehicle gas tanks and stealing the fuel inside.

The crime happened twice last week near West 25th Street South and South Crysler Avenue in Independence.

Officers took reports of someone drilling into the gas tanks of two pickups parked in the area, damaging the vehicles. The crimes occurred overnight on March 9th.

Overland Park police have one report of a similar crime. It happened to a vehicle parked near 76th and Metcalf on Feb. 26.

Reports like these caused the Automobile Club of Southern California to warn members about the crime last week.

The club said it’s easier for thieves to drill into the gas tanks instead of trying to siphon gas out of the tank.

The club said it’s because newer cars come with a valve between the fuel tank and the filler neck of a vehicle. The value relieves pressure in the fuel tank, but also makes it more difficult to siphon gas from a vehicle.

AAA said it’s an expensive crime. If it’s a small hole, a mechanic may be able to patch the tank, If not, car owners could face a repair bill of more than $1,000 to replace a damaged gas tank.

It also creates a safety hazard.

How can you tell if you have been a victim of fuel theft?

AAA said those who suspect they were a victim of fuel theft should look for the following signs:

  • The smell of gas as you approach your vehicle
  • A puddle under your vehicle near the fuel tank
  • The vehicle is not starting
  • The vehicle starts but the fuel gauge shows fuel is missing and/or the check engine light comes on

What should you do if you confirm your vehicle has been tampered with?

  • Contact the police to file a report
  • Reach out to your insurance agent to find out if your policy covers the repair
  • Take your vehicle to get fixed as soon as possible

Here are some tips from AAA on how to protect your vehicle:

  • Park in the garage at your home if you have one.
  • When out in public, park in a well-lit area with high traffic.
  • If possible, park in a secure location like a fenced-in lot or parking garage.
  • When in a garage, find a parking spot near the exit or elevator since those have the most visibility and foot traffic.

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