Police in Florida arrested seven men over the course of several days last week after a series of brazen thefts of thousands of gallons of gas from filling stations in Central Florida.
Police in Gainesville arrested three men at a Circle K last Wednesday as they were allegedly attempting to steal gasoline. The arrests came as part of a months-long investigation from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. According to investigators, the men used counterfeit credit cards and devices that control the gas pumps themselves, as well as large gas bladders that hold up to 300 gallons of gas, to steal from the pumps. The suspects are alleged to have stolen as much as 1,478 gallons of gasoline from stations in Hillsborough County, and another 1,328 gallons of diesel fuel from stations in Sumter County, and are believed to have run the same scheme in nearby Marion County. They were also allegedly using credit card skimmers to steal credit card information, and police reportedly found a ledger that indicated the men were reselling the fuel. The suspects were charged with racketeering and may face other charges for involvement in a criminal organization, the Gainesville Sun reported.
On Friday, police arrested four more men in connection with two separate thefts. Two of the men were arrested at a gas station in the city of Lutz, and the other two were arrested at a station in the city of Lakeland. Law enforcement said all four were arrested for using devices meant to alter the gas pumps to distribute free fuel for pennies on the dollar.
“They go in and they change the pulsator. The pulsator is the device that is inside the gas pump that regulates the flow of the fuel,” Florida Petroleum Marketers Association president Ned Bowman explained to local NBC affiliate WFLA. “So they’re able to change the price of the fuel down to a nickel or a penny to the gallon and fill the back of their trucks up – their bladders or spare tanks – with fuel that’s basically free.”
Bowman told the New York Post that high gas prices in Florida would mean such activity, usually organized, would continue. “These are criminal rings,” Bowman told the Post. “I think you are going to see this expand.”
“Anytime that we’re seeing a theft like this, or actual fraud, we have zero tolerance,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said via WFLA. “And we’re going to come in and it’s a very clear symbol to anyone that may be thinking of doing something like this – we’re going to catch you. “
News of gas thefts in Florida comes as similar to thefts across the country, from California to North Carolina. As The Daily Wire recently reported:
According to local TV station WGHP, the thieves attacked the Bizzy Bee Grocery and BP gas station in High Point, North Carolina, and stole almost 400 gallons of gasoline directly from its pumps late Tuesday evening, after the station had closed for the night. Gas station owner Hardik Patel told WGHP that about 15 cars in total showed up to the pumps, stealing about $1,600 in gas. …
Surveillance video included in a TV segment on the theft showed two individuals pulling up to the pump at around 9:23 p.m. One suspect gets out of the passenger side of the car and points a device at the pump. The device put the gas pumps in “standalone mode,” allowing them to pump gas without charging. …
Minutes later, cars began lining up to take gas from the pump. Surveillance video from shortly after the thieves arrived showed other cars pulling up to the pump, with one of the thieves pumping gas for others who pulled up.