Tallahassee Man Facing 32 Charges for Stealing Gasoline
A Tallahassee man is facing 32 criminal charges related to an organized theft of fuel from various Central Florida gas stations. He was arrested by Florida’s Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement (OALE) and Osceola County Sheriff’s Office according to a news release published by the OALE. The investigation began when a Kissimmee gas station reported significant losses from fuel theft. Police went through surveillance footage and identified a 28-year-old man as a primary suspect.
The suspect hit the same gas station a second time and was seen tampering with the pulser dispenser which regulates how much gas comes out of the pump. The gas station reported the man to authorities and when they tried to approach him, he fled. Eventually, authorities were able to apprehend the suspect who is now facing a litany of charges related to the gas theft.
What is gas theft and how does it work?
Gas theft is the criminal act of stealing gasoline from a pump. Traditionally, there were only two ways to do this. The first was pumping the gasoline and then driving off. The other was siphoning. Today, there is a third option that is growing in popularity: tampering with the pulser dispenser.
The suspects generally use a pulser manipulation device to extract more fuel than they would otherwise be entitled to.
What charges are filed in these cases?
There are a number of elements to a crime like this. The use of technology to access the pulser device is itself a crime. The defendant will likely be charged with illegally accessing an electronic device which is considered a second-degree felony under the law. The defendant can also be charged with unlawful conveyance of fuel which is considered a third-degree felony under Florida law. The possession of the device used to steal that gasoline is also a crime under Florida and punishable as a third-degree felony.
With gasoline prices steadily on the rise, the criminal act of stealing gasoline has become much more prevalent across the country. Today, the use of technology to aid the effort to steal gasoline has authorities on high alert. The use of technology to aid the process of stealing the gasoline makes it a hacking crime that is punishable as a second-degree felony which has a maximum sentence of 15 years under Florida law. The actual theft of the gasoline is a secondary charge punishable by up to 5 years in state prison.
In these cases, sentencing for the various criminal acts is far in excess of the amount of gasoline stolen. While theft charges are generally related to the amount of money lost, defendants charged with manipulating gas pumps face other charges related to the possession of the device and the tampering with the gas pump. Hence, they can face much longer sentences than someone who simply drives off without paying.
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Luke Newman, P.A. represents the interests of Tallahassee residents who have been charged with serious crimes. Call a Tallahassee criminal lawyer at our office today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing your defense options immediately.