‘This is a first for us’: Winnipeg car-sharing service hit by gas theft

A car-sharing business in Winnipeg says it too has had fuel stolen from one of its fleet vehicles in what police say is a potentially deadly method of gas theft.

Will Belford, fleet manager at Peg City Car Co-op, said around Tuesday last week, a member arrived at a booked car parked in the downtown area.

“They noticed some of the snow was melted under the car. They smelled the aroma of gas. They hopped in and started it up and noticed that it was empty, you know, all the way down to the light,” he said.

“We dispatched staff to go and inspect, and yes indeed, someone had drilled one of our fuel tanks.”

He said the member was able to get another Peg City vehicle, and the car that was damaged was repaired in short order.

“When you have a fleet of vehicles and they’re dispatched throughout the city, any number of things happens to them,” he said. “But the drilling of a fuel tank, which I can only guess is to remove the fuel – this is a first for us.”

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According to the GasBuddy website, gas prices in Winnipeg are hovering around 173.9 cents per litre.

Belford said Peg City Car Co-op has seen several new members joining the car-sharing service, but not necessarily because of the high price at the pumps.

“I would say that the gas prices haven’t been high enough for long enough that I would point to that as a primary cause of folks coming on board,” he said.

“But needless to say, the cost of fuel is one variable and a very prominent cost of car ownership, but it’s one of a myriad of other things – maintenance, parking, just paying for the car.”

He said the car-sharing service has a fleet of 68 vehicles, and has plans to expand its fleet with another 19 vehicles.

Peg City Car Co-op is one of several businesses and residents in Winnipeg that have fallen victim to this kind of gas theft in recent weeks.

Late last week, a man in Transcona discovered the gas tank of his truck had been drilled and the fuel emptied from the tank.

A few days prior, Little People’s Place Inc. daycare centre found the same thing was done to three of its vans.

Const. Dani McKinnon, a public information officer with the Winnipeg Police Service, previously told CTV News, while the amount of gas thefts in the city is not enough to be called a rising trend, they have captured the attention of law enforcement.

She said this kind of gas theft is potentially very dangerous, as the drill that is used to puncture a hole in the tank could create sparks, igniting a fire or explosion. Police said this can cause an injury, or in the worst-case scenario, death.

Manitoba Public Insurance told CTV News vehicle owners who discover their gas tanks have been drilled can open a claim. However, the Crown corporation does not track the number of cases specifically involving gas tanks being drilled. It said an average of approximately 12,000 vandalism claims are opened each year. 

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