SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento County probation officers have found themselves the victim of an overnight crime — a thief has targeted gas tanks in the face of rising prices.

“This has never happened before,” said Elise Vindrak with the county probation department.

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They say someone broke into their secured parking lot along Del Paso Boulevard in the early morning hours and stole gasoline from the county vehicles parked there.

“Gas is really high priced so I wasn’t super surprised,” Vondrak said.

The thief is accused of using a handheld power tool to drill holes in the gasoline tanks underneath the vehicles in an effort to steal fuel.

Ryan Ortiz works out at the gym next door and says the crime is a sign of the times.

“That is mind-blowing like, whoa, gas prices are that high now, oh my gosh,” he said.

The thief left behind puddles of spilled fuel on the pavement and the strong smell of gasoline in the air. Up to nine county probation cars were targeted.

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“We did bring them all in for inspection and repairs just to be on the safe side,” Vondrak said.

So what can people do to protect their cars from gasoline theft?

AAA recommends parking in a garage or well-lit area and parking in a secured location, if possible. They say drivers should also find a spot close to the exit or with the most visibility and foot traffic.

The probation department says surveillance cameras did capture the crime.

“It was a single individual,” Vondrak said.

And right now, neighbors hope they won’t be the next target.

“It’s bad times and people do bad things,” said Paul Phenneger, who coaches at the gym next door. “It’s not good. Hopefully, they’ll get caught.”

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It’s not just the price of lost gasoline. AAA says it can cost up to a thousand dollars to fix a busted fuel tank.