Gasoline Thief Goes Up In Flames
December 24, 2013

Gasoline Thief Goes Up In Flames

I love reading about ridiculous criminals. I’ve always been a bit of a pyro, and I must confess gleaning no small amount of joy from a bit of good, old-fashioned schadenfreude. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a story that combines all three of these fantastic elements into a single, delightfully flammable WTF. Enter Harry Frederick Suniville, a 62-year-old man living in Oregon. Like many of us, I’m sure Suniville was frustrated by the seemingly endless cycle of obnoxious gas pricing. Unlike many of us, he nearly burned his face off trying to rectify the situation.

According to KATU, a local Portland news source, Suniville stole a canister of gas from a neighboring vehicle. Apparently the prospect of free gas was too tantalizing to pass up, as the canister was sitting unguarded next to the adjacent truck. Unfortunately for Suniville, the call of nicotine was equally pressing. While the would-be gasoline thief poured the ill-gotten gains into his own vehicle’s tank, he decided to light up a cigarette. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened next. As anyone with an ounce of common sense will deduce, fire met gasoline, which subsequently introduced itself to Suniville’s pants, socks, hair, and eyebrows. But it didn’t stop there. Fire, being the volatile bugger that it is, likes to spread — and spread it did, all the way from Suniville’s truck to the neighboring vehicle from which the gasoline was stolen. Portland firefighters managed to get all the fires put out, and Suniville received proper treatment for his embarrassing, self-inflicted burn wounds. The damaged vehicles were towed from the scene, and Suniville was whisked off to the Multnomah County Jail on counts of second degree criminal mischief, reckless burning and third degree theft.

While many of the blow-yourself-up-at-a-gas-station myths have been debunked by websites like Snopes, obviously live, burning embers are going to cause a problem. As a logical, properly functional human being, you would have probably been able to figure that out. But just in the off chance that you might have been curious, don’t light things on fire while you’re pumping gas. Cell phones are fine. Burning tobacco leaves? Not so much. Cigarettes have their place, and much like your bed, the gas pump simply isn’t one of them.

It just so happens that this story more or less coincides with the 2013 Darwin Awards, granted to those who cleanse the gene pool of their own stupidity through various acts of accidental self-destruction. I suspect had our flammable friend not survived this encounter, he would have secured himself a spot among these infamous annals of idiocy. As it stands, however, the only thing he managed to secure was a spot in the county jail.

His brilliant theft went … (wait for it) … up in smoke.

Image Credit: Andrey Armyagov / Shutterstock

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