Oakland Reporter’s Gas Almost Siphoned, While She was in the Car

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As gas prices skyrocket, there has been an uptick in illegal siphoning of gas across the country accordingto a representative of AAA.  Reports of illegal gas siphoning are popping up all over the Bay Area as well.  Starting with this reporter!

Last weekend in Oakland, I was sitting in my car finishing up a phone call when I saw a man walk down the sidewalk towards me with a red gas tank and a whole siphoning set up in his hand. At the time I shrugged it off until I saw him literally begin tapping my gas tank door to see if it would open,  Yes, WHILE I was in the car! I remember whispering to the person on the other end of the line, “Wait…OMG, this is f*ckin’ weird!”

When the guy realized that the gas tank wouldn’t open, he simply continued down the street, never noticing me in the front seat, he then disappeared around the corner, presumably to look for potentially unlocked gas tanks.

The man in question was using a tank siphon set up just like this, which can purchased at any Walmart.

Reports of other illegal gas siphoning are surfacing around the Bay Area as well, this week a friend of mine in Benicia on Facebook put out a PSA reminder to all of their friends to consider putting in a locking gas cap if they didn’t already have one. They live in another part of the Bay Area and are seeing similar crimes pop up in their area. 

This week in a Sacramento neighborhood Facebook group a user posted a picture of their gas tank with a hole drilled in the side. “Folks have been getting their gas tanks drilled in Sacramento. Happened to 2 friends and one neighbor that we know of,” says Heather Simoni.

Facebook post about drilling in the gas tank

Drilling into gas tanks is also happening

Ways to help prevent gas theft: 

AAA recommends three ways you can keep thieves from targeting your gas tank:

  • 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 parking in a garage, find a spot near the exit or elevator as those have the most visibility and foot traffic

If you suspect you have been a victim of fuel theft, you should look for the following signs:

  • The smell of gas as your approach your vehicle
  • Puddle underneath your vehicle near the location of the fuel tank
  • The vehicle does not start
  • The vehicle starts but the fuel gauge shows fuel is missing and/or the check engine light is illuminated

Once you confirm your vehicle has been tampered with, you should:

  • Contact the police to file a report
  • Reach out to your insurance agent to learn if your policy covers the repair
  • Take your vehicle to a trusted repair facility as soon as possible. You can find a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop by visiting

Until the gas prices stabilize and (hopefully) go down, we can expect to continue to see these types of things happen. protect yourself and be sure to stay vigilant. For myself, I’m lucky to have a newer car that has an automatically locking gas tank door. But check and see what your situation is and make decisions that feel right for you.

We recommend rethinking how often you drive to save some money – walking, public transit and your bike are your friend right now. Also, if your gas does end up getting stolen, go onto gasbuddy and refuel with the best deal on gas you can find. As they say: “A penny saved is a penny earned.

gas cap lock with key

What a gas cap lock looks like – photo from Amazon


As of today, gas prices are creeping up to $6 a gallon. This compared to 20 years ago, the price per gallon was under $2 in California. This according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Patrick de Haan, head of petroleum analysis at Gas Buddy, told SFGATE that he doesn’t see a drop coming yet, if at all, noting that California’s average could near $6 — and an increasing number of stations in the Golden State may charge over $8 a gallon.

Park safe out there!

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Katy Atchison

Katy Atchison

Katy has lived in The Bay Area since the age of 3. While other kids were attending summer camp & soccer practice, she was raised selling wares at craft shows with her working artist parents and spent vacations in a small 1920s Montana log cabin. This has all given her a unique perspective on the ever-changing texture of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Currently a blend of all that is The Bay Area - she's a web designer at a tech-company, artist and DIY teacher.