COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in locating a man they believe stole gasoline from several cars last week.
The sheriff’s office says that just before 2 a.m. on March 24, a burly white man with long brown hair and a beard was seen on surveillance cameras siphoning gasoline from several vehicles parked outside. ‘A Good Mechanic’ auto repair shop in the Security-Widefield area of unincorporated El Paso County.
The suspected thief wore light blue jeans, a dark hoodie and gray shoes. His vehicle is described as a silver 1999-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee that was missing its front bumper, had sun/oxidation damage to the hood, and had no front license plate attached.
Unfortunately, this is far from the only case the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has investigated. They say crime is on the rise in the county.
“We’ve had over 30 reports year-to-date in various areas of unincorporated El Paso County,” said Sgt. Jason Garrett, a public information officer with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. ‘El Paso. “And I imagine there’s probably an exponential number of additional thefts that just haven’t been reported.
In most of these situations, the thieves siphon off the gas. However, in some cases they even drill into the gas tank, ruining the car.
The previously mentioned theft at the Security-Widefield body shop was caught on camera. But police say they are not always so lucky, despite most of these thefts occurring in busy areas.
“The vast majority of cases we take are from densely populated areas, which may come as a surprise to some,” said Sgt. Garrett. “But if you think about it, in the blanket of darkness and densely populated areas, there are actually more places where someone can sneak in and hide and do their thing without being noticed.”
The sheriff’s office says if you become a victim, report it immediately. This incident could be a small part of a series of larger crimes.
“Our agency and the Colorado Springs Police Department have what are called ‘Criminal Intelligence Units,'” said Sgt. Garrett. “What may appear to be an isolated incident to the caller is likely a small part of a larger crime wave. What our criminal intelligence units are able to do is take fragments of reports individuals that are coming in, especially when we get information on suspects and turn it into arrests. It happens over and over again. So if you were unfortunately a victim of this, I strongly encourage you to call this report because every little bit of information helps to hold people accountable.”
Authorities are urging residents to park their cars in well-lit areas and not leave them unattended for long periods of time if possible. It is also suggested to avoid leaving your vehicle in park and ride overnight.
The sheriff’s office also says that if it is possible to invest in home surveillance technology, these videos and images can help apprehend suspects much faster.
If you have information that could identify the suspect, call the Sheriff’s Office Inquiry Line at 719-520-7777. If you have real-time information on the suspect’s location, call Dispatch at 719-390-5555.