High gas prices creating need for locking gas caps

Monday, July 3rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- One of the more valuable things in a car these days may be the gas in its engine. And with gas prices at historically high levels, some auto parts stores say locking gas caps are becoming popular theft deterrent devices.

"They've increased in sales, big time," said Jerry Burton, manager of an Oklahoma City AutoZone store. Burton said the gas caps work well in protecting tanks full o high-priced gas from would-be thieves.

"I've used them," he said. "It would take a thief a pretty good while to break into them." However, Burton said, the gas caps can prove to be a stumbling block to owners as well as thieves.

"If you lose your key you're in big trouble, because they're hard to get off."

The caps weren't a hot commodity the first week gas broke the $1.70 per gallon barrier, said Robert Van House, manager of a Tulsa NAPA auto parts store. After that, "we just couldn't keep them in stock," Van House said. "When people started noticing that gas prices weren't coming down they started buying more caps," he said. "The gas prices were so high, they wanted to make sure it stayed in their tank."

Oklahoma City police Capt. Charles Allen said the departmen hasn't seen an increase in the number of gas theft complaints, but said sometimes people don't report the crime.

"A lot of time they'll just get in and argue about who gassed up the car last and not realize it," he said.

Bill Lassiter, manager of an O'Reilly Auto Parts store in south Oklahoma City, said the increase in sales there had been slight. O'Reilly corporate offices have told stores to ensure the caps are available on shelves until at least July 8th, Lassiter said.