NAPA, Calif. (KGO) --Thieves in the North Bay are doing much more than just vandalizing cars, they're puncturing vehicle gas tanks and stealing the gas. Ten incidents have been reported so far across Napa. It's a rash of crimes that's also creating a health hazard.
Whoever is doing this was bold enough to do it in the parking lot of Walmart.
Apparently, most newer vehicles have a lock on the gas caps, a lock on the gas door or an anti-siphoning device. So a crook is drilling holes right inside the tank. However, they're not very good at it because they're spilling the gas all over the place.
Napa police say they've come across similar scenes in parking lots almost a dozen times in less than a week.
Napa Police Lt. Debbie Peecook said, "They're puncturing the gas tanks and stealing the gas and then the gas is running onto the parking lots or city streets."
The gas thief or thieves will also slash one back tire to tilt the tank so the gas flows toward the hole.
Victim Ricardo Martinez said, "You know it just irks you, you know?"
Martinez says his back tire was slashed, but his gas tank was never punctured. Police say the target vehicles are mostly SUVs with enough clearance to crawl under them. He said, "Maybe it was just too low and they just couldn't get to it because they obviously got to the other car."
Police say it's happening all over Napa at all hours of the day. It's happening on quiet residential streets and in large parking lots like Walmart and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Napa Valley.
Eric Dreikosen from the Boys and Girls Clubs said, "To me it seems like a lot of work for what could amount to a couple dollars' worth of gas, but that's what I understand happened and now we have a big mess in our parking lot."
Police believe the suspect is driving a white, mid-sized SUV with Washington plates.