Police arrested a man in Georgia after he was recorded allegedly trying to puncture holes in a U-Haul truck nearby to steal fuel, authorities announced on Thursday.
The incident occurred in Griffin, Georgia, on Wednesday, a City of Griffin Police Department news release stated.
According to the news release, on Wednesday, the Police Department and the local fire department received a phone call reporting a “significant” fuel spillage coming out of a U-Haul truck parked near USA storage on Bowling Lane.
When officers and firefighters arrived at the scene, they discovered that the spill of “hazardous material” was due to damage caused to the truck’s fuel tank, police said.
According to a City of Griffin Police Department post on Facebook and Fox News, firefighters worked throughout Wednesday afternoon amid rain, cleaning up all 35-45 gallons of it to prevent the substance from causing an accident.
Then, law enforcement began investigations to find out who punctured the U-Haul truck’s fuel tank. The investigation led them to some photos and videos.
After finding images and CCTV recordings of the suspect carrying a fuel can and towards the U-Haul track, and those of a red 1980-1986 Ford F series truck he drove, the police department posted on Facebook, writing, “So while you’re creating a hazardous material spill, for 5 gallons of gasoline and cause firefighters to have to work in the rain, we appreciate you parking your truck behind the KFC where we can obtain a photo of your [getaway] vehicle.”
“Also, the shots of you walking around the U-Haul trucks are helpful. Investigator Powell is interested in talking to anyone that can assist in identifying the owner / driver of the red 1980-1986 Ford F series truck,” the department wrote in a post addressed to the fuel thief.
After being tipped off by local residents, authorities charged 25-year-old Jesse Smith with “criminal damage to property and theft by taking,” the press release stated.
He could face more charges, police said.
“While we understand that there is a shortage on gas, we also want to remind everyone to exercise safety, patience, and common sense,” police wrote on Facebook.
“The shortage is temporary and we anticipate the gas stations returning to full operations soon. In the meantime, remain calm and don’t do anything to endanger yourself and others.”
The theft comes as the country faces an ongoing fuel shortage caused by the shutdown of the 5,500-mile Colonial Pipeline during a cyberattack.
The pipeline was restarted after the cyberattack. Yet as of 4:41 p.m., Eastern Time on Friday, 45 percent of Georgia’s gas stations lacked fuel. Twenty-nine percent of Tennessee’s fuel stations and 26 percent of Florida’s were dry. Other states, such as the Carolina, had staggering numbers of shortages.
“Colonial Pipeline has continued to make substantial progress in safely restarting our pipeline system. We can now report that we have restarted our entire pipeline system and that product delivery has commenced to all markets we serve,” Colonial Pipeline Company said in a news release, as previously reported.
“Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal. Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during this start-up period,” the company said.
“Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal.”
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