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Cops on lookout for propane thefts

WILLMAR –– The high cost of propane has law enforcement on the watch for tanks being stolen or siphoned off.

Willmar Police Capt. Jim Felt said the Minnesota Fusion Center, which is a multi-agency entity that’s part of the Homeland Security Department, is watching for possible trends in propane thefts.

He said the state is asking local law enforcement agencies to send reports to the Fusion Center, which can then use the information to spot regional or nationwide theft rings and send alerts to communities.

The Fusion Center has been used in the past to monitor crime trends, like the theft of copper.

Since propane prices have skyrocketed to over $5 a gallon, Felt said theft of propane is likely.

Felt said even small, portable propane tanks used for outdoor grills can be attractive to thieves. He asked people to report any theft of propane to law enforcement.

He said homeowners may want to consider concealing propane tanks, but said tanks should never be put inside any building — not even in an unheated garage.

Felt said when propane changes from a liquid to gas, it can expand 270 times and be extremely dangerous.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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