CADILLAC — This is a surefire way to get on the naughty list this time of year.
On Nov. 10, troopers from the Cadillac Michigan State Police Post responded to a complaint at the Walmart in Haring Township for a report of multiple vehicles in the parking lot were damaged. Police said two vehicles had a hole punched in the gas tanks.
Michigan State Police Seventh District Public Information Officer Lt. Derrick Carroll said it is currently unknown if the holes were made to damage the vehicles or in an attempt to steal the fuel. He also said it is not known, based on the report of the incident, if any fuel was taken or if there was any that spilled out. He also said he couldn’t comment on whether the damage was visible from the outside of the vehicle.
During the review of the surveillance footage, Police said troopers observed a newer model white Chevrolet Express Van loitering in the area near both vehicles that were damaged for an extended period. Police also said the Wexford County Sheriff’s Office had similar reports in the area weeks before this latest incident.
Wexford County Detective Sgt. Chris Piskor said the sheriff’s office has case files for two separate incidents on Oct. 31 and again on Nov. 4. He also said there is potentially a third case file, but it couldn’t be verified as the police report remained unfinished.
The Oct. 31 incident occurred in the Universal Rent to Own parking lot and Piskor said the report on the incident indicates someone siphoned gas through the gas tank after a hole was drilled in the tank. He also said fuel was left on the ground.
The Nov. 4 incident occurred in the parking lot outside the ABC Warehouse in Haring Township and in similar fashion Piskor said the report indicated a person had drilled a hole in the gas tank.
“It is unusual and pretty dangerous drilling holes in a fuel tank. They are leaving fuel behind and not taking all of it,” Piskor said. “They are leaving it behind on the ground and it is a hazardous situation and potentially an environmental issue”
Wexford County Emergency Management Director Randy Boike said he was notified and responded to the Nov. 10 incident as there was 40 to 50 gallons of fuel that had been spilled on the ground. He said through the use of a hydrocarbon mat they were able to slow the amount of the fuel going into the storm drain.
He said the concern was that it would eventually make its way into the Clam River. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy was notified immediately, but Boike said because of when the incident occurred, a Friday, Walmart opted to be proactive and called in its own hazmat team to clean the spill and get the situation mitigated.
If anyone has information about the white van or these incidents, they are asked to call the Cadillac MSP Post at (231) 779-6040.