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Thief Pumps $900 Worth Of Stolen Gasoline
April 16, 2005 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Gas Pump Hacker. "CHICAGO -- In a bold and outrageous theft staged in broad daylight, a driver pumped about $900 worth of gasoline at a suburban gas station. The man removed the panel of a pump in Country Club Hills and manipulated the mechanics of the pump so that it would continue to pump gas without registering inside the station... Other cars then pulled up to the pump and, apparently, cut deals with the thief, who then filled up their tanks and took off..."
posted by azul (31 comments total)

 
I've read that in the Depression in America many of the downtrodden rooted for the bankrobbers who were sticking it to the banks. With all of the media coverage on rising gas prices I'm sure there will be people who hope that this happens more often.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:49 AM on April 16, 2005


Anyone who steals large amounts of petroleum products should be punished to the full extent of the law.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:50 AM on April 16, 2005


Interesting that the suspected thief, caught on camera is wearing a t-shirt of someone's mugshot.
posted by melt away at 7:03 AM on April 16, 2005


In Iowa you might lose your license if you dont pay. Only if you do it twice though.

There has also been an increase in people driving off without paying pretty much everywhere in North America although I couldn't find a good link that wasn't filled with just local anecdotes.
posted by furtive at 7:03 AM on April 16, 2005


Hard to imagine someone can sashay up to a gas pump, open it up, putz with the equipment and then pump that much gas. Maybe they exploited RFID?
posted by nj_subgenius at 7:03 AM on April 16, 2005


And just to add to the audacity, the guy does it wearing a T-shirt with a pair of mug shots on the front.

Next time, he might try it wearing a striped sweater and a black eye mask.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:22 AM on April 16, 2005


Greatest performance art ever.
posted by mlis at 7:27 AM on April 16, 2005


With all of the media coverage on rising gas prices I'm sure there will be people who hope that this happens more often.

God forbid Americans should try and reduce their gas expenditures by doing something revolutionary like using less gas...
posted by clevershark at 7:42 AM on April 16, 2005


clevershark: what ? Pedaling on a bike ?! Going a bus !? Taking a train or a metro !!! You unamerican one, why do you hate my freedom of driving ?
posted by elpapacito at 7:45 AM on April 16, 2005


Police are now looking for a black man in his 20s..

damn black and white cameras.
posted by three blind mice at 7:48 AM on April 16, 2005


Wow. I worked at a Hess station for a decade, and this is the best story I've ever heard about gas theft. Definately takes some talent to modify a pump like that. The innards are usually pretty complicated (ours were especially so, modified after-the-fact with vapor recovery gadgetry). Wouldn't this require at least a little training on the mechanics of the pump? They're not all the same model or anything, after all.

And Slack-a-gogo, I can see where you could foment public approval of these kinds of measures, especially at the ground level, where somebody'd pay $10 to fill their tank and say nothing. I also can see them getting charged for this.

I'm surprised this guy didn't hit numerous stations with this tactic. He probably only made a couple hundred off the trade. And once found out, it makes it a little harder to pull off again.
posted by Busithoth at 8:36 AM on April 16, 2005


I was thinking it was odd that the cashier didn't notice. But if he or she was busy with customers inside he or she probably assumed the 24 or so cars* going to that pump were paying via credit card at the pump.

One could do this in a low tech way with a stolen credit card. Just have the people give you cash. Sort of like Winona Ryder's character did with her dad's gas card when she needed some cash.

When the price gets too high many people will turn to the black market to get their fuel. Enterprising criminals will be more than happy to satisfy their need for cheeper gas.

*$900 at $2.50/gal, 15 gal per 'customer'.
posted by birdherder at 8:40 AM on April 16, 2005


I was thinking it was odd that the cashier didn't notice. But if he or she was busy with customers inside he or she probably assumed the 24 or so cars* going to that pump were paying via credit card at the pump.

Many pumps that are furthest away from the cashier are pay-first only to prevent people from pumping and driving off. Typically the furthest island is credit/debit only. The cashier probably didn't see the same guy standing there the whole time while two dozen cars drove through.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 9:10 AM on April 16, 2005


not the best story i've ever heard ... a year or so ago, someone in the detroit area discovered that one could "buy" gas through meijer's pumps by swiping one's driver's license through instead of a credit card ... for whatever reason, the pump would accept the numbers and allow you to pump the gas ... it took awhile for meijer's to catch on to this ... i'm sure it's fixed now

unfortunately, the drawback to this little scheme was that everyone's driver's license no was recorded ... oh-oh ...

i used to work at a gas station in the early and mid 90s ... we had to go pre-pay on night shift because of all the drive offs ... worse, the police weren't eager to deal with it as there wasn't any law that dealt specifically with this ... now, you can lose your license for it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:35 AM on April 16, 2005


Ha, can't condone theft but I love this story. I think Slack-a-gogo's got it. Ride on Gas Man, hope we never find out who you are and you don't end up doing time for it.

there wasn't any law that dealt specifically with this

There will be for tampering with the equipment.
posted by scheptech at 9:42 AM on April 16, 2005


I don't see why plain and simple theft/shoplifting laws wouldn't cover it ...
posted by hattifattener at 11:14 AM on April 16, 2005


Anyone who steals large amounts of petroleum products should be punished to the full extent of the law.

WPG STRIKES AGAIN!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:34 AM on April 16, 2005


or. uh. wgp.

DYSLEXIA STRIKES AGAIN!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:36 AM on April 16, 2005


Police are now looking for a black man in his 20s, whose image was caught on surveillance tape at the service station. He was in the company of a woman about the same age, also captured on tape.

The woman pictured in the photo is clearly NOT in her 20s...
posted by Ricky_gr10 at 11:49 AM on April 16, 2005


i live in california, and have only vague, distant memories of "pump-first" gas purchasing.
posted by flaterik at 12:09 PM on April 16, 2005


That's brassy, yet strangely brilliant. The theft is of course utterly wrong, but this man is probably hero in his neck of the woods. I wonder how he did it, exactly?

The guy who loses is the owner of the station, unless it's a corporate-owned station, in which case I feel much, much less badly about it, considering they post new record profits year after year after year.
posted by trigonometry at 3:51 PM on April 16, 2005


You know, I was wondering about that "steal gas and lose your license" stuff. Is this really a law? If so, why? Did the gas companies buy this law, or was this just some legislator's novel idea?

Why would stealing gas warrant losing your license when, say, stealing motor oil inside the store wouldn't?

I'm not saying it's right to steal gas, I'm just questioning the logistics of creating legislation that punishes it in this way.
posted by odinsdream at 5:19 PM on April 16, 2005


I wonder how he did it, exactly?

So do I. Davy needs a new pair o' shoes. Maybe he'll post a HOWTO?
posted by davy at 9:00 PM on April 16, 2005


By the way, there's a "no-pay drive-away" law in KY: if they catch you they stick it to you.
posted by davy at 9:05 PM on April 16, 2005


A little late on the punch here, but..

Back in South Florida, filling up and taking off without paying was called a "gas'n go" some 15 years ago. I've seen signs stating either no-pay-no-license or no-pay-go-directly-to-jail at every gas station I've been to between Maryland and Miami (along the I-95 corridor)

While I can't quite condone stealing, there is a part of me that cheers for the Robin Hood type.

This guy is no Robin Hood. If he gave the gas away to people for free, that would be one thing. But according to the article, people "cut deals" with him. Nothing noble or heroic there, imo.
posted by zerokey at 3:41 AM on April 17, 2005


Odds are he's not to worried about loosing his licence. He'll "live well" for a few days on the money, eventually get caught, then the tax payer can start funding his lifestyle for the next few years.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:53 AM on April 17, 2005


Ricky_gr10's right, the woman's old enough to be his mother. Odd - I'd probably keep my mother at a safe distance if I was tampering with the innards of a connected petrol pump...
posted by runkelfinker at 7:06 AM on April 17, 2005


Link to larger pic of the woman

She looks late 20something to early 30's to me.
posted by zerokey at 10:47 AM on April 17, 2005


I've never encountered a pay-and-fill in Canada. The whole idea is obscene: presumed guilty. I hope we never end up with the sort of society where such is necessary.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:12 AM on April 17, 2005


More info
posted by The Cardinal at 10:08 PM on April 17, 2005


five fresh fish: I know I've ended up at more than one between Toronto and Windsor. I think it's too late for Canada.

What I'm sick of are the stations that have some pay first and some not. And stickers smaller than my hand to announce the fact. Just make them all pay first. No one here can afford to fill up their tank anyway.

As for Robin Hood. We have no idea if he gave away gas or not. Maybe he cut deals depending on the car? I say his going in and buying something was either stupidity or open defiance of the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Does anyone know an easy way to find which stations are company owned for major brands?
posted by ?! at 5:36 AM on April 18, 2005


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