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Thieves steal fuel from juice company's trucks by drilling into gas tanks

Columbia Gorge Organic's Portland distribution center has also lost product and vehicle batteries to thieves in recent years.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Tucked away in a business park east of the Portland airport is Columbia Gorge Organic juice company's Portland distribution center. It is hidden to most people, but not everybody is unaware of its location. Thieves are in the know.

"Over the last five years, it's almost common to the point we come out and check the trucks in the morning," operations manager Eric Fleming said. 

He said in recent years thieves have zeroed in on the company's trucks. He said they have stolen vehicle batteries and juice out of the back of the trucks.

"Usually what they steal doesn't cost a lot," Fleming said. "The damage they cause trying to get it is what the real problem is."

Credit: Mike Benner, KGW staff
Managers at Columbia Gorge Organic's Portland distribution center now chain up the vehicle batteries to be sure thieves do not steal them.

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Fleming said thieves have even siphoned gas, which is why the company has turned to new gas caps that require a key. But it is not stopping the thieves. 

Fleming said late Sunday night, at least one person, maybe several, drilled straight into the gas tanks on three trucks. Fleming said they stole what fuel they could while letting the rest drain out.

Credit: Mike Benner, KGW staff
Company managers say thieves drilled into gas tank for fuel.

"It's very frustrating because we couldn't take or use our trucks yesterday," he said. "Not only are we buying new gas tanks, some people aren't making their wage and we lost money yesterday probably."

Fleming said it could be several weeks before all three trucks are fully operational again. He said for the time being, they will look at renting or borrowing trucks from other companies just to get their work done.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact the Portland Police Bureau.

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