Neillsville Police officers looking for gas thief

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 6:58 PM CST
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NEILLSVILLE, Wis. (WEAU) - Neillsville police officers are searching for someone accused of stealing gas by drilling holes into a car’s fuel tank.

Gross Auto Group owner Mike Gross said someone drilled holes into a used Jeep Patriot’s fuel tank on the dealership’s downtown lot Tuesday night.

He said mechanics first noticed the problem Wednesday when they brought the car into the garage for a routine check-up.

“As soon as we pulled in everybody noticed they could smell gas and then they followed the quarter gas trail running in from the outside and then put the vehicle up on the horse, and that’s when we noticed somebody had drilled a hole into

the fuel tank that evening prior in order to steal the gasoline from it,” he said.

Gross is no stranger to theft but he said this is a new one.

“We’ve had a lot of things stolen over the years, lot of crazy things,” he said. “Wheels, cars, catalytic converters, of course is a hot item, but I’ve never had anybody drill a hole under a gas tank in order to steal gas.”

Gross said given current economic conditions, and rising gas prices, he’s not surprised someone tried to poach some fuel. However, people usually siphon it through the gas cap.

“When I saw how they did it by drilling a hole in the tank, then I was a little more miffed at how that had happened,” he said.

Gross said the thief probably stole about $20 work of gas, causing about $1,500 in damage. It won’t hurt the car’s resale value once it’s fixed.

Despite that, he’s offering a $2,000 reward, likely more than the cost of repairs, to anyone who comes forward with information leading to an arrest.

“We just kind of wanted to head this off happening again to us or to anybody else in the community,” he said. “It’s a small community. We will be able to fix this car. Just hate to see it happening to other people where they’re now trying to replace fuel tanks and getting the same thing done.”

Gross said people with information on the crime should call his dealership at (715) 743-3207 or the Neillsville Police Department at (715) 743-3122.

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