Fuel theft spills 200 gallons of diesel into Bear Creek

No threat to human water consumption identified, officials say
 Fuel theft spills 200 gallons of diesel into Bear Creek
Posted at 9:49 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 12:56:18-04

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Lakewood police are searching for the person responsible for a fuel theft that led to about 200 gallons of diesel spilling near Bear Creek.

Lakewood Police Department spokesperson John Romero said a semi-truck driver noticed a hole had been drilled into one of his fuel tanks early Monday morning.

"About 6:45 [Monday] morning, the driver had come out for work and had realized not only was there a very strong diesel smell in the air, but that someone had drilled a hole in one of his tanks," Romero said. "We don't know how much fuel [the suspect] actually got off with."

The theft caused 200 gallons of diesel to spill into a street gutter on West Darmouth Place. From there, the fuel traveled into a storm drain then spilled into Bear Creek.

The creek is roughly three miles east and isolated from the well-known Bear Creek Lake Park.

"There is an investigation into this. Obviously, we have a theft, and we have a possible criminal mischief case," Romero said. "There’s also some environmental laws we’re looking into."

Romero said Denver Water and the Environmental Protection Agency were alerted. At this time, no threat to human water consumption has been identified, according to officials. A spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife said their aquatic biologists have inspected the spill and found no harm to ducks or fish.

Several efforts to slow the spread of the diesel have also been put in place.

"We have booms that are lining the waterway. Those booms are designed to mitigate and pull up some of that diesel that spilled," Romero said.

The booms will be periodically replaced over the next few days, according to the city. Cleanup efforts concluded at 3 p.m. Monday.

The city confirmed the incident was not associated with the Bear Creek Trail improvement project occurring west of the spill.

As of Tuesday morning, parks staff only observed a minimal sheen on the creek in slow moving sections. Signs have been posted informing visitors to stay out of the water, though any risk is considered low.

Investigators believe the fuel theft happened between midnight and 6 a.m. Monday morning. Anyone with information is asked to contact dispatch at 303-980-7300 and reference Lakewood Police Department case LK22-021086.