Several Toledo businesses are running on empty after company vehicles were vandalized and the gasoline stolen.
Starting around June 15, someone, or a group of people, drilled holes in the plastic gas tanks to steal the gasoline.
Police reports indicate thousands of dollars in damages.
Three trucks at Hull and Associates, an engineering and environmental consulting company at 3401 Glendale Ave., were vandalized between 6 p.m. on June 16 and 7 a.m. on June 17.
About 20 gallons of gasoline from the vehicles spilled onto the asphalt parking lot causing the tar to erode and the parking lot to break apart.
One of the company's associates showed up for work on June 17 and tried to start a truck -- which he thought had a full tank of gas after filling it the previous night -- and the low fuel light came on, said Stace Beiber, senior project manager.
The employee remembered he smelled gas when he arrived at work and realized the trucks had been vandalized.
Without factoring in how much the rental vehicles are costing the company, the damage and loss of fuel will cost Hull and Associates about $5,000, Mr. Beiber said.
He estimates the thief, or thieves, got away with about $200 in gasoline.
The trucks were parked in a lot behind the building, out of view from anyone who might have passed by. There were at least three other vehicles in the lot that the thieves did not touch, Mr. Beiber said.
He said the company is having new gas tanks put in and hopes they won't have the issue again.
"They could come back and do it tomorrow if they wanted to," Mr. Beiber said.
At least three different Auto Zones have been targeted -- on West Sylvania Avenue, Byrne Road, and Airport Highway.
O'Reilly Auto Parts reported that two of its vehicles were vandalized.
Advance Auto Parts on North Reynolds Road reported two vehicles vandalized, as was one vehicle from Starts Auto Parts on Heatherdowns Boulevard.
"It's probably just the criminals need gas for their own cars," Toledo police Lt. David Schmidt said.
Toledo police have received reports of this type of vandalism and theft in years past.
In one instance, a man from North Toledo, who used dump trucks, was stealing diesel fuel and using it in his trucks, Lieutenant Schmidt said.
The lieutenant suggested leaving vehicles in a well-lit area; if possible, installing surveillance systems, and keeping vehicles locked behind gated areas.
Without any witnesses or information on the suspects, Lieutenant Schmidt could not say whether the incidents were related.
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