Pilots were preparing for trips as usual Tuesday at the Willow Airport -- but that’s not all that has taken off from here lately.

An X of pink paint marks the spot where thieves stole fuel from planes parked in one part of the airport Sept. 30. Alaska State Troopers say someone also took a pickup truck from the same area on Wednesday. Those are just the latest thefts at the airport over the last couple of years.

Airplane owners said the suspects apparently stole the aviation fuel to put in cars, but it will only get them so far because it contains high amounts of lead -- which can cause catalytic converters to fail and cars to stall.

That might not matter to the suspects, according to some owners, who believe the fuel was put into stolen cars and trucks.

Employees at the airport, which is operated by the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said crooks stole 14 batteries Monday used to power the road signs used to warn drivers of road conditions.

Troopers found the pickup truck stolen last Wednesday at a home in Big Lake. There has been no word on any arrests in the thefts.

The Big Lake and Anderson Lake airports have seen similar crimes in recent years, according to troopers.

Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to call AST at 907-352-5401.

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