PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A North Portland couple now faces $1,300 worth of damage, after police say an unknown person drilled a hole into their truck’s gas tank in an attempt to steal fuel. 

A day after KOIN 6 News reported on a recent rise in gas thefts, David Rossman told reporters he caught a suspect in the act early Saturday morning after his wife noticed an alert on their porch camera system.

“She happened to be waking up at two in the morning and said ‘there’s somebody out there with a gas can,’” Rossman recalled. “I went out to investigate and by the time I got organized and out the door, he was driving off.”

Rossman continued, “So I went out to see what was going on. And gas was leaking from my truck.”

Portland Police told KOIN 6 News, the agency has received at least four reports of gas theft within the month of March alone.

The couple provided KOIN 6 News with a security camera video of the crime, which shows a darkly dressed figure approach the Rossman’s truck with a flashlight and gas can in hand just in front of the couple’s Arbor Lodge home. 

Gas tank with drilled hole. March 19, 2022
(Courtesy David Rossman)

In the footage, the suspect appears to duck under the truck before abruptly getting back in their vehicle and taking off.

“He put some gas in his vehicle and then he came back and it was filling it [the can] back up when he left,” Rossman said. “I really don’t know why he left or if I spooked him, because I wasn’t anywhere near coming out yet.”

Rossman said the gas thief later returned, in what he thought was an attempt to grab can which was left behind –but immediately drove off after spotting Rossman.

“He pulled back around to get it I guess, I don’t understand why he left without it … But when he came back and saw me he went back down the street and left,” Rossman said. 

Beyond the added financial stress of the crime, Rossman told KOIN 6 News it was incredibly difficult to watch someone senselessly disrespect his property.

“It’s so blatant that disregard for what isn’t there’s,” Rossman said. “I was frustrated and confused because when I got out there the gas can was still there being filled and he didn’t even have it under there, right. He was only catching half of what was coming out.”

The couple filed a police report with PPB, which is now actively investigating the incident.

Rossman told KOIN 6 News the costly crime – and the aftermath – have completely consumed his time, stating, “one of the most frustrating things the crime has done is the two days I’ve spent making phone calls to insurance and then finding a place to have it fixed.”  

According to the couple, the initial estimate they received to repair the damage is roughly $1,300. 

Rossman said the spike in gas prices, while likely a contributing factor to this incident, does not warrant stealing.

Screenshot from porch camera video, showing the suspect. March 19, 2022 (Courtesy David Rossman)

“I realize gas is pretty high still,” Rossman said. “I’m sure they were in a dire situation, but you know this is just adding to the insurance of everybody else.”

Rossman told KOIN 6 News, while he doesn’t understand how anyone could steal another person’s gas, he pointed out that increased pump prices could be creating more barriers for Portland’s most vulnerable populations.

“I think it’s a contributing factor,” Rossman said, “I’m sure with the little change they’re getting from bottles, begging or whatever they’re doing for funding … It’s probably the gas that keeps their car running.”

He continued, “If they’re sleeping in their car or just needing minimal transportation, it just adds to their plight.”