It didn’t take long before high gas prices started being blamed for gas theft around San Diego County.
Last Friday, two La Mesa truck owners told police their fuel tanks were drilled and drained while they were left parked outside. Now they're facing expensive repairs and the risk of it happening again.
While it was raining outside what was streaming from underneath robert and heidi antonucci’s truck last friday morning was gas.
"Fuel, plus fire, plus air creating an explosion of the gasoline lighting him on fire, lighting the whole truck on fire. These are the things that come to mind," Heidi Antonucci told NBC 7, describing her fears about the danger a hole in her gas tank could present.
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That same morning, a neighbor named Manuel suffered the same fate.
The fuel in his Ford F-150 was drained through a hole drilled in the tank. There was a large stain on the ground. Manuel suspects the gas ran out too quickly for the bandits to contain.
Manuel’s truck was parked in the usual spot at his apartment complex. The Antonucci's Toyota Tacoma was parked on Baltimore Drive which runs between both victims’ homes.
Before this, the Antonucci's Tacoma had been burglarized, vandalized and smashed by a hit and run driver.
The truck was hit so hard it was pushed onto the sidewalk. Vandals shattered a side window. This image shows the broken glass. Another time, Heidi says, thieves stole a camera and flashlight when the truck was left unlocked.
But they say having a hole drilled in their gas tank is the last straw.
"It’s hard for me to get into that mindset of a person who would do that," Heidi Antonucci said. 'It is really shocking.”
The Antonuccis say their truck needs $1,500 worth of work.
"If they just wanted the gasoline they could have just siphoned it out. I don’t know why they would go to the trouble of drilling the hole," Heidi said.
The theft is also exacting an emotional toll. Heidi and Robert have no room in their garage for the truck and will again have to leave it on the street.
AAA recommends that if you can't park your car inside a garage, try and find a well-lit area with lots of traffic.