On Wednesday (December 13th), after a long day at work, “John” returned to his truck — which he had parked on Frontage Road, by the W. Washington Street trolley station — to find his gas tank had been emptied by a person or persons with a drill.
“There are two drill holes in the tank under the truck. A witness said that he saw some tweakers earlier with a couple buckets spilling all over the place, smelling like gas,” “Jane” (wife of “John”) told me while explaining the incident.
“He doesn’t drive much and takes the trolley to work. When he got to his truck, there was gas all over the ground and a plastic corkscrew [made by the drill] hanging down. There was another one on the ground.”
He immediately called the police.
“The first call was transferred to fire department,” Jane said. “They came and threw some dirt on the gas. The second call, they said would be out, but after two hours, when it was getting late, on a bad road with sketchy people, by the time they came, he would have been mugged, truck stolen, or stabbed.”
Rather than wait for the police, they had the truck towed.
“He had just filled the tank — about 26 gallons that went into the storm drain, and when the tow truck guy put it down, it started to leak more gas.”
John’s truck, a 2005 Toyota Tundra, has a gas tank that’s made of thick plastic. The couple has been given repair estimates of between $550 and $2000.
“We were told that they don't make these tanks anymore,” she added.
After sharing the info with the online community, the couple, who live in Ocean Beach, received help from Frank Damron at Sunset Cliffs Automotive.
“Tell me the year & make & I'll get you a quote,” Damron commented. “It looks like Japanese maybe Nissan or Toyota. Labor should only be about 200 to 300 max & I'm sure we can get a good used tank.”
Someone suggested they just “tape over the holes.”
“It is not worth patching a plastic tank, the danger of fire is greater,” Damron replied. “There are very few chemicals that gasoline will not eat through.”
In the end, the couple will be out-of-pocket $500 for insurance, $75 for the lost gas, plus the cost to replace the tank.
“My husband has had to take off days of work without pay. So for someone to get ten dollars’ worth of gas, we are out over $1000,” Jane said. “Everyone we have talked to about this can't believe they drilled to get the gas. A friend said that it happened to her work vans in the Kearny Mesa area a couple weeks ago. It cost $3000 to replace the Ford Transit gas tank. She said her mechanic said it was the first they have seen of this, too.”