Maui News

Maui County gas thefts quadruple year over year amid historic prices

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Gas thefts, such as cutting gas lines, have more than quadrupled this year, according to MPD data. PC: MEO
Gas lines were cut to two Maui Economic Opportunity passenger buses on the nonprofit Pu’unene base yard. PC: MEO

As gas prices breach historic highs, Maui County gas thefts more than quadrupled year over year, according to Maui Police Department data.

There were 58 gas thefts from Jan. 1 to July 7 this year — up from only 14 gas thefts over the same period last year, data shows. 

Fourteen incidents of gas syphoning happened so far this year, compared with two calls last year. Besides syphoning, thieves drill gas tanks, cut gas lines and steal gas cans, among other methods to steal fuel. MPD information on gas theft is based on calls for service. 

Maui Economic Opportunity last month discovered gas lines cut to two 18-passenger buses at the nonprofit’s Pu’unene base yard. 

The nonprofit, which is known for helping residents in need, acknowledged high gas prices but said stealing is not a solution. 

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“We understand the hardships caused by the significant increases in gasoline prices but stealing gasoline from others is not the answer,” MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe said. “The price of stealing gasoline from our base yard has a price – to our organization and funders and to the thief, who could face criminal charges.

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When buses were being filled with gas, the driver notice leaking gasoline. After looking into it, MEO found cut gas lines and a half tank of gas stolen from each bus. 

As a result, MEO increased security measures at the base yard.

While MEO does not have a program for fuel costs, the nonprofit does offer rental, mortgage and energy assistance, Cabebe added. For help, residents may call (808) 249-2970.

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Hawai’i’s highest recorded average gas price — $5.623 for regular unleaded — was recorded July 9, according to AAA Hawai’i. A year ago, it was $4.083.

As of Wednesday, Maui County’s average was $5.776, the second highest in the state. Kaua’i County topped the state at $5.837. Hawai’i island was third at $5.728, followed by O’ahu at $5.521. 

Kelly Blue Book earlier this year listed ways that owners can protect vehicles from gas theft, including:

  • Park indoors.
  • If you can’t park indoors, park in a well-lit area.
  • Avoid parking anywhere for an extended period of time. If you’re going on a trip, for example, get a ride to the airport rather than leaving your car unattended in the long-term lot for days at a time.
  • Position your car so the fuel door faces the road.
  • Consider investing in a locking gas cap.
Kehaulani Cerizo
Kehaulani Cerizo was born and raised on Maui and worked for nearly 15 years as a news reporter, copy editor and features editor at daily newspapers. She earned awards at The Maui News in Wailuku and at Today’s Local News in San Diego.
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