Cutting Edge Crime: Stealing Gas Using Technology
Several Florida residents have recently been charged with unlawfully using technology to steal fuel at the pump. A recent scheme accuses Tallahassee residents of using fuel pump pulser manipulation devices to extract more fuel while also using fraudulent credit and debit cards. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issued a statement saying that two had been arrested in connection with the crime. However, with the price of gas skyrocketing, theft against gas stations is also expected to climb.
Two men in Orlando have been charged with illegally accessing an electronic device, fraudulently obtaining fuel, criminal mischief, organized scheme to defraud, and unlawful conveyance of fuel.
Two men in Tallahassee are charged with illegally accessing an electronic device, fraudulently obtaining fuel, criminal mischief, and unlawful conveyance of fuel.
Tallying up the charges
- Illegally accessing an electronic device is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.
- Criminal mischief – Illegally tampering with business operations is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 5 years in state prison.
- Unlawful conveyance of fuel is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 5 years in state prison.
- Obtaining fuel by fraud is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.
- Possession of a skimming device is a third-degree felony. The defendant faces three counts punishable by up to 5 years on each count for a total of 15 years.
Tallying up the charges, we have a maximum penalty of 55 years in state prison.
What’s going on?
Law enforcement became aware of attempts to defraud gas stations using various skimming devices to steal credit card information and commit other crimes. In this case, the defendants were hacking the pump, installing a pulsar manipulator, and taking more fuel than they paid for. Since they had to hack into the pump, that constitutes a property crime against the business (criminal mischief).
While it’s unlikely these defendants are going to spend 55 years behind bars for this crime, law enforcement is charging them to the maximum extent of the law because they want to make an example of them and deter future attempts to do the same.
Pumps have pulsator devices that regulate and throttle the flow of gas through the pump. If they are manipulated, the pump can deliver more gas than it was meant to. The use of such devices is illegal. It’s illegal even to possess the device.
Law enforcement will pursue this as a type of fraud crime or an organized conspiracy to commit a theft using false information and/or the presence of skimming devices that allow for the theft. Fraud charges tend to be more serious than simple theft charges, so the sentences are longer.
With gas prices rising and Americans pinching their wallets to pay for basic needs, crimes against gas stations will continue. Nonetheless, these gas stations tend to have video cameras under the pumps making the effort somewhat less lucrative than it ought to be. This defendant is facing 55 years for stealing what amounts to be a few hundred dollars of extra gas.
Talk to a Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Luke Newman, P.A. represents those charged with crimes in Tallahassee. Call a Tallahassee criminal lawyer at our office today to schedule an appointment and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.