MERRIMACK, NH (CBS) – Police departments around New Hampshire have been starting to see gas thefts. Now, in Merrimack, crooks are targeting home heating fuel, something police say they haven’t seen in a long time. It’s costing homeowners hundreds of dollars.
Barbara and Lawrence Morrison noticed it when the heat went out. The oil company came and found their full oil tank had been drained dry. At four dollars a gallon, refilling it hit the retired couple hard.
“That’s a lot of money to me,” says Lawrence. “$800 to do that again and it should have lasted until the end of this month and that’s when I called the police.”
Across town, thieves targeted another neighbor. This time, they emptied the diesel from his truck and took a couple hundred gallons of heating oil too.
“We haven’t seen something like this in a long time,” says Merrimack Police Captain Pete Albert. “It usually coincides when there’s a significant increase in the cost of motor fuel or home heating fuel.”
Captain Albert says he doesn’t know if the two Merrimack cases are linked, but he wants residents to be on the lookout.
Rick Saari at Rochette’s Oil says stealing the oil isn’t hard to do with a hose and a truck.
He’s got his oil locked up and says at four dollars a gallon and rising his customers need to protect their fuel too.
“There’s a number of ways you can secure your tank with locking caps,” says Saari. “Putting flood lights out by the tank is probably the best way of doing it.”
Gas and oil thefts have been reported not just in Merrimack, but also in Manchester, Salem, and northern New Hampshire communities. If gas prices keep rising, police say they won’t be surprised if they see even more.