MISSOURI CITY, Texas — Amid soaring gas prices, a southwest Houston gas station is getting hit hard at the pump but not for the reason you might expect.
“The way they did it was very sneaky. They were doing it in front of so many people – so many different customers," Jerry Thayil said.
Thayil's family owns the Fuqua Express gas station. He said surveillance video outside of the gas station shows thieves in action.
A green van can be seen in the surveillance video Thayil provided to KHOU 11 News. He said the video shows the way the thieves pulled it off.
“They had a trap door in their vehicle and they would put a hose down there and suck it out with the pump,” he said.
The alleged thieves – he said – hit his Chevron three times last week and tried for a fourth.
“Each time they were there about 15 to 20 minutes ... in a high traffic time," Thayil said.
Thayil caught on to the act after noticing a deficiency in his stores three days-in-a-row last week.
“About 350 gallons of diesel," per day he said.
He began combing through surveillance video and noticed a pattern.
“I started seeing this van just parked over there," he said.
He later said he realized that a black SUV was there playing lookout. In all, he says the thieves stole over 1,000 gallons of gas.
“We had locks on our fill caps. Still they were coming in and ... I think they were locking it with their own locks,” Thayil said.
On Friday, he happened to be in the office and when he noticed that same van pull up. He took off after it.
“I need to have them see me going after them and to scare them away,” he said.
In total, the heists have cost Thayil and his family about $5,000. The price of gas is hitting his family just as hard as consumers.
“In this kind of job, every penny counts. We can’t afford to lose a single more gallon," Thayil said.
He said he spoke to Houston police just hours before the alleged attempted fourth robbery on Friday. He's hoping for the public's help and asking anyone with information to call police.