Drivers Make Off With 5,000 Gallons of Gas

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Five thousand gallons of fuel were reported stolen Thursday from a St. Clairsville gas station marking the second theft report involving the business in recent days.

Today, Belmont County Sheriff Fred Thompson said he has a number of questions regarding recent reports involving the Hilltop Marathon at 52615 National Road. The business was closed early today, and it was taped off as a crime scene.

A deputy shut the pumps off at the business Thursday evening after receiving reports of customers not paying for fuel. There was no attendant at the locked gas station when the deputy responded to the call, the sheriff said.

According to a sheriff’s report, Belmont County Central Dispatch received several calls at about 2 p.m. Thursday regarding customers lined up at the pumps with no attendant at the business. At 4 p.m. Thursday, a deputy was again called to the scene for reports of customers taking gas without paying. At that time, the deputy reportedly advised that the 5,000 gallons of gasoline were stolen. Thompson said he does not know if customers could have stolen such an amount of fuel.

“The pump has to be reset from inside (of the business),” Thompson said. “When one customer hangs up the hose, the next person just can’t come up and get gas. It has to be cleared by the attendant. If the building was locked, there’s no way to go in and clear the pumps.

“The only way it could have been done is if one person got gas and then said ‘Hey, free gas,’” the sheriff added. “They could have done it if they didn’t hang the hose up and filled up one after another.

During the fuel theft investigation, central dispatch reportedly advised deputies the owner of the gas station had called an ambulance Wednesday night, and the man was taken to an unnamed hospital.

Thompson said the business owner also reported a large sum of money stolen from his vehicle Wednesday morning. He said the man left a bank bag on the front seat of his unlocked vehicle as he made several stops en route to a local bank. The sheriff said the situation is “strange.

“Yesterday, we had a report he was missing,” Thompson said. “He wasn’t around, and his car wasn’t there. The day before he reported the money stolen out of his car.”