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Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office continues search for fuel theft suspects

Deputies responded to a leaking fuel tank on the east shore of Lac La Belle Thursday.
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 7:13 PM EDT
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EAGLE RIVER, Mich. (WLUC) - The Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Department thinks high fuel costs may have motivated someone to siphon gas from a commercial fishing operation last week.

On Thursday, a gas spill occurred on the eastern shore of Lac La Belle. Deputies from the Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene.

“When we got there we discovered approximately 20 to 30 gallons of fuel had spilled into Lac La Belle,” Keweenaw County Sheriff Curt Pennala said.

Pennala said suspects snipped the fuel lines of a mostly empty 275-gallon fuel tank attached to a parked commercial fishing boat. This commercial fishing boat was not affiliated with the Lac La Belle Lodge. According to Pennala, they managed to escape from the scene with some fuel, while the rest leaked into the lake. Pennala said he suspects a potential motive may be related to continued high gas prices.

“Through the investigation, we determined that it is a possible attempted theft,” Pennala said. “It is one of those things happening right now with high gas prices.”

Pennala said he expects gas thefts to continue as fuel costs remain high. Pennala had a message for those who store fuel on their property to prevent it from being stolen.

“We would like to remind people to make sure you are keeping an eye on your outside fuel storage areas, especially with the higher gas prices,” Pennala said.

As for the fuel spill, Pennala said it is being contained.

“The DNR, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy as well as the U.S. Coast Guard have been on the situation,” Pennala said. “They have some containment booms placed out to absorb the fuel.”

Pennala said the search for those responsible for the fuel spill is still underway. With only limited information on who did it.

“We had some information from a neighbor about hearing a vehicle running that was reported late Wednesday night,” Pennala said.

The Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office asks that anyone with more information on those behind the spill please contact the department at (906) 337-0528. You can also report any information to the Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office by email at kcso@keweenawcountymi.gov.

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