Michael Brandy, Deseret News
Tennyson Cecchini, a warehouse/driver manager, points to a truck Monday that had gasoline stolen from it at Alpine Home Medical Equipment in Murray. One truck had a hole drilled in the gas tank.

The high price of gasoline may have prompted an unusual theft at a Salt Lake County medical supply company.

Investigators Monday were looking for the person or people who drilled a hole into the fuel tank of one delivery truck and cut the gas lines of another and a mini-van in an effort to steal the fuel.

Because of the damage done to the delivery trucks, Alpine Medical Equipment was unable to make all of its rounds Monday to customers who needed their supplies, said company executive assistant Shana Foelberg.

"This morning, one of our drivers was going out to do deliveries. He pulled over, into a gas station, and that's when he noticed it," she said.

After inspecting the company's five delivery vehicles, the company found the gas tanks on three of them had been vandalized. But rather than it being an attack directed at the company, Foelberg believes the vandals were strictly out to find a large vehicle with gas.

Two of the trucks had fuel tanks that held 25 to 30 gallons. The minivan holds 12 to 15 gallons, she said.

The parking lot of the business, 4030 S. State, is fenced off. Foelberg said it was unknown how the burglar or burglars got in or how they got their filled gas cans out.

There were two surveillance cameras in the fenced yard area, but neither caught the gas thief in the act. Investigators and the company said they weren't sure if that was because of luck or the person already had a layout of the yard.

Alpine delivers medical supplies such as oxygen tanks, wheelchairs and beds to homes. The company was scheduled to make about 30 deliveries Monday but was unable to do so, Foelberg said. Some employees also tried to make up for the lack of trucks by using their personal vehicles.

"It was a big setback," Foelberg said. "Some of these people are regular customers. They might be fine waiting a day. But they depend on that. Some people get their deliveries every month or bi-monthly, and if they don't have it, it makes them uneasy."

Alpine hoped to be back to making normal deliveries by Tuesday.

"It's sad that people are so desperate to do that," she said. "People are just so desperate right now, robbing innocent victims."

Foelberg said the gas was siphoned out of the fuel tanks of their delivery trucks last year, but there had never been an incident like this.

Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Paul Jaroscak said his office had not investigated any similar incidents recently of gas tanks being drilled into or gas lines cut.

Anyone with information on the gas thefts can call the sheriff's office at 743-7000.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com