Man Accused Of Siphoning Gas from Underground Tanks

Hundreds of gallons of diesel stolen

The high gas prices of the not-too-distant past have been blamed for pushing some people to siphon gas out of vehicles, but one man is accused of going straight to the source and stealing hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel out of underground gas station storage tanks in Chesterton and other Porter County, Ind., locations.

Surveillance pictures at a Chesterson Speedway station off the toll road show a Chevy Silverado parked over the gas cap that leads to the underground tanks and a man walking to and from the truck. 

When the truck pulled away, over 100 gallons of fuel were missing from the diesel-filled tanks, the station alleges.

One Chesterton resident called the heist a copycat crime from a recent episode of a television show.

"I just saw that on CSI a couple of weeks ago," she said. "Same exact thing.  Pull into the service station, act like you're having car trouble, while somebody else is, you know, siphoning it out of the tank underground."

Chesterton police Lt. Dave Atkins said he's never heard of a crime being copied from a TV show, but said he understood how it could easily be done.

Atkins confirmed that 50-year-old Stephen Hoelle man was arrested for the alleged crime overnight Tuesday.

Hoelle was stopped by Valparaiso police and was found to be driving on a suspended license.  Tanks in the back of the pickup smelled of diesel fuel, police said.

Several police agencies are working together in an attempt to determine how many brazen thefts Hoelle may have committed. 

Hoelle posted the $1,000 bail soon after he was booked.

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