With gas prices at all-time highs, criminals have been modifying trucks to steal thousands of gallons worth of gas from stations.
The problem is particularly acute in the Las Vegas metro area, where police say they’ve seen an uptick in fuel thefts amid rising fuel prices.
"These thieves are very sophisticated. They will take a truck that looks just like a normal truck, like a freeway service truck, and there is intricate piping inside them," Lt. Jeff Swanbeck with LVMPD’s Financial Crimes Section told KVVU.
He added: "They will open up the gas pump itself, and there is a series of gears inside there, and they are smart enough to figure out how to manipulate the gears."
Some gas stations have been nearly put out of business through this brazen scheme, which often goes unnoticed.
One of these thieves was recently caught towing a horse trailer filled with tanks of stolen fuel headed for California, where gas can be sold at a higher price.
Swanbeck advised being aware of clues that could signal a red flag, for instance, if someone is at the gas pump for hours, despite having used only a $20 gift card.
The average price that Americans pay for gasoline is closing in on $5 a gallon, another drain on the wallets of consumers who are paying more for many other essentials too.
AAA said the nationwide average for regular on Thursday was $4.97 a gallon, up a quarter in just the last week and $1.90 more than drivers were paying a year ago.
GasBuddy, a service that helps drivers find deals on gas, said the average surpassed $5 for the first time ever.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.