Furniture store owner fed up with gas thievery

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
CHINA GROVE ó Bill Bare has had it up to here with the theft of diesel fuel from his company’s trucks, so he’s appealing to the public for help.
The words on the marquee sign in front of his business, Bare Furniture Co., read: “Thieves stealing diesel fuel.”
“I’m hoping it might make people take a look,” Bare said, referring to motorists passing in the night, noticing something amiss and calling law enforcement.
Bare’s business is located at 1660 N. Main St., outside the China Grove town limits and beside Grove Supply Co.
Bare said the business has been broken into a number of times in its 43 years of operation, but he’s never experienced the theft of diesel fuel he’s experienced in recent weeks.
Bare said one day last week, one of his delivery trucks was filled with diesel fuel. The next morning, when he climbed in to use the vehicle, “It was totally empty.”
Bare said one of the vehicles holds 40 gallons of fuel while the other holds 36 gallons. With the price of diesel pushing $5 a gallon, that adds up to a chunk of change.
Bare said the trucks are typically parked overnight between a pair of buildings at his business. One of the buildings is a showroom while the other is a warehouse.
The trucks aren’t difficult to see from Main Street.
Bare said that on a handful of occasions, his employees have even moved the trucks to the front of the property at the close of business. There, the trucks have sat overnight almost directly under street lights.
Even there, the thefts continue.
“It’s amazing to me that somebody can do that and nobody sees anything,” Bare said. “Whoever’s doing the stealing, they’re pretty brave.”
Or too stupid, perhaps, to be afraid.
Bare said he figures the thieves must be siphoning the fuel from the trucks. He said there’s a plug under the fuel tanks, but there’s been no sign that those plugs have been removed and the diesel drained.
Hodge Coffield, chief of the China Grove Police Department, noted that Bare Furniture Co. is outside the town limits and his officers don’t patrol the business.
Still, he said he hates to hear of larcenies taking place anywhere.
Coffield said the theft of motor fuel hasn’t been especially bad in China Grove. He said there have been a few catalytic converter thefts in town and he recalled some chain saws being stolen.
Along with the chain saws, thieves have picked up a few cans of gas, Coffield said.
He said the theft of gas from local service stations is rare despite the spike in prices.
“Most every station is pre-pay,” Coffield said.