By Rayes Gallegos / New Mexico News Port
The person who tried using a wrench to steal gas from a van parked in Albuquerque’s South Valley didn’t siphon any gas but successfully cracked the gas tank spilling toxic fuel all over a pre-school’s driveway.
The van belonged to Cuidando Los Ninos, a nonprofit that helps families transition out of homeless and runs a preschool.
”This transportation is so crucial,” said development director Ashley Martinez. The van is used to shuttle kids to and from school and for field trips.
Gas prices hit record highs in March, to $4.15 per gallon in New Mexico, up from $2.85 last year, according to the American Automobile Association and drivers from Los Angeles to New Hampshire have reported thieves siphoning gas from their cars.
It has become common enough that poison control experts have issued warnings about the serious health risks of siphoning gas.
The siphoning incident had psychological and practical impacts on Cuidando. Martinez said she’s upset that a thief would target a nonprofit helping kids—the van had an obvious logo identifying it.
Cuidando’s insurance is covering the cost of the repair but the organization is still out $500 for the deductible and had to dish out another $3,000 for a two-week rental which took a week to get that arranged.
“That could have been for field trips for kids but instead we had to put it in the van,” Martinez said.
And the preschool couldn’t allow kids outside for recess for a few days because the smell of the leaked gas was overpowering.
“I get gas is high but also, like, why push people down?” Martinez said.
Martinez found it difficult to explain to the children why someone would try to steal their gas.
“I would just say that at the end of the day karma is going to get you, that’s the nicest way I could put that,” Martinez said. “The guy was never caught so he’s out there, so lock your vans,” she said.
Rayes Gallegos is a reporter for New Mexico News Port and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.