SIOUX FALLS - Some car owners in Sioux Falls have been surprised to find their gas tank on empty and even more surprised to find out where the gas went. Then shocked to find out what the repair cost would be to fix the damage caused by the gas thief.

Please beware, this could happen to you.

With gas prices climbing twelve cents this past week and forty two cents over the past month to a national average of $3.67 per gallon, gas is a hot commodity. Up until now, the two common ways to steal gas was to either siphon it from someone's car or just fill up at a gas station and drive away without paying.

But now, someone is drilling. The thief drills a hole in the gas tank to drain the fuel out.

This drilling method is very costly to the victim. The cost of the gas loss is a minor issue. The price to replace your gas tank is going to set you back.

KSOO-AM talked with Andy Harstad, a service consultant at Billion GMC in Sioux Falls to find out the cost of replacing a gas tank.

After the initial cost of towing, which is about $50 in Sioux Falls, there is the cost of replacing the actual tank. Harstad estimated the cost of replacing the gas tank on a full size car at over $1,300, including parts and labor. Replacing the gas tank on a pick-up truck would cost over $1,000.

Harstad knew of two people that had been hit by the gas thieves. One person went out to start their car in the morning. The engine started and ran for a short period, then stopped. The driver had had the car towed to a repair shop, where the mechanic found a hole drilled in the tank.

The other driver saw his gas gauge on empty and pulled into a nearby gas station to fill up. While pumping gas, the driver noticed gas running all over the ground under his car.

So far, the investigation continues with the Sioux Falls Police Department. The person or persons that have been drilling the gas tanks are still on the loose.