After getting caught red-handed, gas thieves drive over 40-foot cliff


Two gas thieves in Coalinga are sure to be thanking the stars they’re alive — after falling 40 feet from a cliff. Police say it all started in a neighborhood down the road and their capture was thanks to a vigilant citizen.

Even more than 12 hours after the incident, it’s easy to track the gas thieves route before their hop into Los Gatos Creek some time around 2 a.m. Sunday morning.

A press release by the Coalinga Police Department said the morning’s events, though, began in a neighborhood nearly six miles away on Phelps Avenue. Someone there caught two people underneath a car. He called police immediately and followed them out when they tried to getaway.

Coalinga Police Chief Michael Salvador said Neighborhood Watch programs have been strengthened the past couple of months. Also, police have been encouraging neighbors to be more alert — to say something, when they see something.

“Those things are all crucial. [This is basically the result of] the “See Something, Say Something” campaign that we’ve had,” he said.

Police said it took three hours to get the thieves out of their car at the bottom of the cliff. One of them being a 15-year-old boy. Charges are planned to be filed with the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, as there are many pending fuel theft cases.

“Unfortunately, we dind’t catch them before they crashed. Still, that information is going to prove crucial to solving these cases and other fuel theft cases we’ve had in the last couple months in town,” Salvador said.

Both of the thieves were taken to a hospital to be treated for severe to major injuries, according to police.

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