Police: Vermont man arrested for stealing gas in Newport to refuel stolen vehicle


Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 05-25-2024 5:00 PM

NEWPORT — A 57-year-old Vermont man who told police that he “had just run out of gas and needed some,” caused an environmental headache when he used an axe to puncture a truck’s gas tank to drain it so he could refuel a stolen recreational vehicle he had been driving that had run out of gas along Route 10 last weekend, police said.

Newport police arrested a Killington, Vt., man and charged him with felony counts of criminal mischief and receiving stolen property as well as a misdemeanor of disobeying an officer in an alleged gas heist that caused a fuel spill requiring hazmat and state environmental teams to respond to the scene, according to court documents.

The arrest came after Newport police and fire departments responded on Sunday at about 6 p.m. to a call of an active gasoline leak from a flatbed truck at a business property at 322 North Main Street, a short distance north of Newport Middle School outside of downtown, police said in a news release.

The alleged gas thief told police he used an axe to puncture a saddle tank on a flatbed truck from which he filled up a portable container. He then poured the stolen gas into the RV that police found had been reported stolen, according to the account in a police affidavit in support of the charges filed in Newport District Court.

As a result of the puncture to the saddle tank about 75 gallons of gasoline spilled onto the ground, necessitating Newport firefighters to deploy protective absorbent pads to contain the leak and use a hand line to guard against fire.

Assistance in the operation was provided by the Midwestern New Hampshire Hazardous Materials Response Team and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, police said.

Police subsequently developed a suspect, vehicle description and direction of travel, and put out a Be On the Lookout to nearby law enforcement agencies.

The suspect, who had left the scene in the RV after he finished refueling it with the stolen gas, was subsequently located and stopped farther north on Route 10 by Grantham police.

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When he was stopped by police, the suspect did not have identification and gave a false name, alleging to police he had not known the RV had been reported as stolen, according to the affidavit.

After being read his Miranda rights and while in the back seat of the police vehicle, one of the arresting officers advised the suspect “that he had created a large mess in Newport and that several fire departments and environmental agencies were attempting to contain the gasoline so that it did not go near the surrounding wetlands,” the affidavit says.

The suspect “admitted again to hitting the tank with an axe and advised that he just wanted to to plead guilty at arraignment as he had to own it,” the affidavit says.

The suspect, whose court documents show he subsequently entered a plea of not guilty, is next scheduled to appear for a probable cause hearing in Newport District Court on June 11, according to court documents.

John Lippman can be reached at jlippman@vnews.com.