Mesa day care center director Mariann Dalgarno thought she had any would-be gas thieves beat. She had Tutor Time's two 40-gallon-capacity vans parked just inches apart Monday night, gas caps facing. It didn't work.
The thieves just cut one of the van's fuel lines.
"My employees saw that they'd left behind the hoses and thought ‘Ha, ha, you didn't get any gas,’ and then she got in line at the gas station to fill up," Dalgarno said. "The gas just came right back out."
In all, the thieves got away with 20 gallons, Dalgarno said. She speculated that the culprits may have been interrupted.
For the most part, however, East Valley police reported few gas-related problems, aside from traffic jams.
Mesa police Sgt. Mike Goulet said that between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday, officers took three gas theft reports. Officers responded to six calls about traffic being blocked near gas stations and three calls about "subjects disturbing."
However, Goulet said people seem to be behaving themselves in Mesa.
"We haven't had any major disturbances or anything," Goulet said.
There was one report of gas siphoning Monday in Gilbert, but no other problems have come to the department's attention, said Gilbert police Sgt. Jeff Esslinger.
In fact, by midafternoon, lines seemed to be diminishing in Gilbert.
Apache Junction police Sgt. Dick Virgil, too, reported relative calm in his city
despite a few traffic jams.
One Apache Junction officer reported watching 35 cars follow a gasoline tanker all the way down U.S. 60 to Idaho Road, then to a Mobil station, Virgil said.
"He pulled in, and they all lined up behind him," Virgil said.
Police officers in Chandler have been taking the initiative to drive pass gas pumps as often as they can to prevent any bad behavior, said detective George Arias.
"High visibility is going to deter any kind of fights breaking out," he said.
At the day care center, Dalgarno said she was glad the theft was discovered 90 minutes before they were supposed to start picking up children Tuesday morning. They borrowed another Tutor Time van, and none of the Guadalupe Road center's children was late for school.
"I'm just very disappointed that someone would do that," Dalgarno said. "People need to listen to the governor and follow directions. There's no need to panic in this situation, nor to commit a crime."
As for the future, Dalgarno said the vans would no longer be parked in front of the business, and locking gas caps have been ordered.
She's not the only one.
Roy Rojas, assistant manager of Pep Boys at McClintock Drive and Apache Boulevard in Tempe, said he had to order locking gas caps and gas cans Tuesday.
"I've lost more sales than I've sold because I'm out of them," Rojas said of his gas caps. "I probably had between 30 and 40 people coming in or calling about locking gas caps Monday alone."
Rojas was down to his last one-gallon gas can Tuesday morning, and it was sold almost immediately.
He also sold his last liquid hand pump, which can be used to siphon gas.
"If I had known this was going to happen, I would have put in an order last week," Rojas said.