So far in 2022 there has been about a 20% increase in the cost of gas compared to last year, and many states hit record-high prices.
The high cost of gasoline has led to an increase in gas thefts from stations – one in four gas station owners says fuel thefts have been rising in 2022.
Recently, police in Virginia Beach uncovered a theft ring that stole thousands of dollars’ worth of gas.
The criminals were able to bypass the gas pump’s credit card machine and sell gas for whatever price they wanted.
But these guys weren’t giving the gas away for free or filling up their cars. Instead, the two guys behind the crime were selling the gas and collecting the payment.
The two men, Rashane G. and Devon D. were arrested and charged with grand larceny, and possession of burglary tools.
According to police, the two men stole $14,000 in profit from the gas station.
And now, gas prices are increasing once again, which will inevitably lead to more theft and crime committed at gas stations.
The reality is that gas thefts from stations are not always a highly sophisticated crime.
Gas station equipment is relatively standardized and does not have many security measures.
That said, here are a few of the most common ways that thieves will steal gas from stations and what you need to know…
Wayne fuel dispensers:
Two big companies make gas dispensers, one of them is Wayne Fueling.
Wayne dispensers have a remote-control option that allows station owners to access the fuel pumps remotely.
But these remotes are not regulated, and you can actually buy them online, including from eBay.
The remote access is controlled with a key code.
And many gas station owners don’t change the code from the factory setting.
Which means, if the criminals know the code, they can access the pumps.
This is typically done at night when the station is closed, and fewer people are around.
So, if you notice someone spending too much time around the pump with a remote this could be a sign of theft.
Another big player in the gas pump industry is Gilbarco…
Their pumps rely on a device called a pulse to measure how much gas is being dispensed, which tells the pump how much to charge the customer.
But thieves have created devices (that can be put together with parts from a hardware store) that can trick the gas pump into slowing down the pulse device.
In other words, more gas is being pumped than the pulse device is registering.
To do this a thief would need to open the gas pump panel and install the homemade manipulator.
This would seem to be a big barrier to the crime, except that keys to open gas pump panels are relatively standard and can be purchased online.
So, if you see someone opening the panel to a gas pump, I would be cautious. If the gas station is closed it’s likely a thief, and you should contact the police.
If the station is open for business when you see this happening, walk in and mention that the panel is open. An employee will know if someone is working on the pump.
Mom and pop:
Unfortunately, the most common victims of gas thefts are mom-and-pop gas stations.
Independently owned stations typically have a handful of employees, so it’s easier for criminals to target these stations.
That’s because it’s easier to go unnoticed if one person is operating the entire station.
Major gas station chains have better security, surveillance, and even security guards.
Criminals know to stay away from the big guys who have all the money and resources to prevent theft.
With the economy tanking it’s more critical than ever to help the little guys. You can do this by buying their gas and watching out for criminals looking to take advantage.
The truth is gas theft has been around for as long as gas stations. But with gas prices at an all-time high, we will see more thefts.
Use these tips to keep yourself, and your local small business owner safe.