Man Tries to Steal Gas, Gets Burned

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A theft gone wrong sends one man to the hospital with burns.

According to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, Cody Sellards and Timothy Long were on Grand Valley Drive at around 3:15 Friday morning. Officials say they were trying to siphon gas from a resident's boat, but that a bad choice on their part sparked a fire.

Hank Ibarra describes his neighborhood as nice and quiet, but says Friday morning it was anything but.

"It was pretty exciting," said Ibarra. "About three-fifteen the neighbors called. My wife answered the phone. Of course, I woke up and she said the boat's on fire."

By the time he got outside, crews were already on scene battling the flames, but they weren't coming from his boat. They were coming from a gas can sitting right in front of it.

"It could've really been bad if the neighbors hadn't seen that," said Ibarra.

While they were fighting the fire, authorities noticed a burnt jacked sitting in the middle of the road. After Ibarra told them it wasn't his, deputies called St. Mary's Hospital. They asked if anyone had recently come in with burns, and sure enough someone had.

They caught up with Sellards in the hospital, who told them how the fire started.

"They were looking inside the gas can to see how much room, or how full the gas can was," said Heather Benjamin, Mesa County Sheriff's Office Spokeswoman. "They looked into it with a cigarette lighter and the fumes caught on fire."

Ibarra says he can't believe it.

"You know I watch a television program called The World's Stupidest Crooks," said Ibarra. "That would probably fall into this category."

Officials agree.

"Well, most criminal behavoir is not very -- very bright," said Benjamin.

Not very bright, Ibarra says, especially when the fire and the burns could have been avoided.

"If they would have come ask for the gas, I'd of probably given it to them," said Ibarra. "The boat just sits there and it's not a good thing to have stale gas."

Ibarra says he's learned his lesson, and that he'll lock his car doors and keep the gas tanks inside from now on. But he hopes that Sellards has learned his lesson too.

"If you haven't got better sense than to check gas with a lighter to see the level of what's in it, or how much is in the can, I guess you deserve what you get," said Ibarra.

Sellards and Long were both issued citations. They face charges of fourth-degree arson, theft, and trespassing.

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