Minneapolis police say that 40 tanks of propane have been stolen from three separate locations over the past two weeks.
At 20 pounds a tank, that's enough to cause a supervillain-worthy fiery explosion. But Sgt. Bill Palmer said that kind of mayhem is the least likely motivation police are considering.[jump]
"This is used in a ton of commercial applications: Heating buildings under construction, defeating frost before you dig, some blower applications, and powering forklifts," Palmer said. "It's also possible that they're being resold on the street out of a pickup someplace."
Less likely but still possible is that the thieves want propane to cook up some meth, Palmer said.
Investigators don't think a single crew is behind all the thefts. A surveillance camera caught the the February 6 heist, as two suspects pried open the storage cage and made off with eight tanks in an orange Buick.
The next night, when 12 tanks were taken from the Hiawatha Avenue Holiday Gas Station, an older gray or white pickup with front-end damage was seen.
The most recent theft was from Frattallone's Ace Hardware on Lake Street. Twenty tanks were taken that night, but the relevant surveillance camera was iced over at the time.