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Sugar in gas tank leads to jail stay

By Christi Laney
On November 14, 2006

Two Sam Houston State University students learned a hard lesson about breaking up two weeks ago as an ex-girlfriend seeking revenge instead landed a stay in jail.

On Nov. 1, a student reported that his car had sustained engine damage on campus as a result of sugar that had been placed in the gas tank.

"The student found out that he had sugar in his tank after taking the car to a mechanic for car trouble," UPD investigative officer Mark Saha said.

After discovering the source of the problem, the student contacted UPD and gave them several people he believed could have been responsible.

One of those suspects, Ashlyn Carr, 19, was called in by UPD and confessed to the crime. She was arrested on Criminal Mischief charges, a state jail felony and booked into the Walker County Jail. According to Saha, the offense was cited as a felony because of the large estimated damages value of $2500.

According to Saha, incidents such as this have happened on campus before but aren't a common occurrence.

"It happens, but not very often," Saha said. "But it definitely messed up the car."

The idea of getting revenge by pouring sugar into an adversary's gas tank is a well-known theory that has captured the attention of police blotters for years and has even made many appearances in American pop culture. In 1996, the act was featured in a Less Than Jake song titled "Sugar in Your Gas Tank." That same year, the act of crime was cited again in the film "Kingpin."

Yet according to CarTalk.com, putting sugar in the gas tank of a car is a widespread belief that carries more weight than it is worth. Many people believe that the sugar dissolves into the gasoline after being poured into the tank, only to caramelize upon reaching the engine and in effect forcing the engine to be completely replaced.

In reality, the sugar does not dissolve and is usually caught in the fuel filters on the way to the engine, the site says.

According to Snopes.com, the sugar has a very slim chance of ever reaching the engine. But when enough sugar enters the gas tank, the site says the car is stopped and serious damages do occur.

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