Investigators Searching for Propane Tank Thieves

GALLIA COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Sheriff's officials in Gallia County, Ohio, and Mason County, W.Va., are searching for dozens of propane tanks and who stole them.

The tanks are generally used on home barbecue grills.

Investigators in both counties got reports of stolen tanks during the weekend.

One of the possible reasons for the crimes actually prompted a call to the Department of Homeland Security.

Now, officials are still trying to come up with a suspect and arrest, and neighbors are concerned about the crimes.

Bobby Young lives just across the street from the Par Mar gas station in Vinton.

"A lot of traffic you know, cause it's a main highway, it's hard to tell who comes through here," Young said.

It's one of the places Gallia County Sheriff's officials said was hit by criminals last Friday night, stealing propane tanks.

"One business lost seven, the other business lost 27," said Gallia County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Dick Grau.

The other business was a Dollar General in Bidwell.

Investigators said the tanks range in price from $25 to $35 a piece, and thieves are more than likely looking to sell them for quick cash or to make meth.

"They have not been showing up in scrap yards, they're being either resold or they're being stockpiled," Grau said.

Sheriff's officials said the stolen tanks could be sold for half the price, just about anywhere.

"It could be a flea market, it could be someone going to door-to-door."

But deputies said the sheer quantity of tanks also raised concerns about the possibility of bombs.

"It's more of a precautionary measure than anything," Grau said.

They alerted the Department of Homeland Security after the thefts. They said the chances of tanks being used as bombs is fairly low.

Still, neighbors like Young said crime like this makes them nervous.

"Make sure everything's locked up when you leave, that's all you can do," said Young.

Young said after these crimes, he'll be watching everything a little closer.

Investigators from Gallia County, Ohio, and Mason County, W.Va., believe the thefts are connected.

West Virginia State Police said they received three complaints in the Mason area of propane tank thefts on the same night.

Gallia County Sheriff's deputies said it's actually the propane companies that take the biggest hit in this crime.

If you have any information related to the thefts, call the Gallia County Sheriff's Department at (740) 446-1221.

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