Reporting Andrea Menniti
RIPON (CBS13) — An alleged thief was caught in the act, trying to steal more than 500 gallons of diesel fuel from a local high school.
A person spotted the suspect siphoning fuel from a large storage tank at Ripon High School just before 1 a.m. on Wednesday.
Police say the sophisticated thief went to great length to steal about 500 gallons of fuel—worth about $2,250—from the school district’s tank. They spotted a large truck and trailer, complete with hoses.
“They saw there was a pump mechanism with some batteries and industrial hosing, and he was offloading approximately 500 gallons of diesel fuel into his tanks that he brought in,” said Ripon Police Sgt. Steve Merchant.
Officers found the suspected thief hiding inside his trailer, arresting 44-year-old Joe Leonard, Sr. of Ceres.
The massive tank holds a total of 10,000 gallons of fuel for the district’s fleet of school buses.
Students preparing for the upcoming school year can’t understand why a thief would target schools.
“For him to try and steal the school’s gas is totally wrong,” said freshman Courtney Slamon. “It takes a lot of money to pay for that.”
Officers don’t know what the man planned to do with the fuel, or if this was his first time siphoning.
“They’d have to have some basic knowledge how pump systems and how tanks work, the way they ran the hose up there.”