High pump prices fueling unique gas crimes

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Gas thieves targeting Central Florida rental trucks and even hacking station pumps are the latest examples of a growing problem sparked by record fuel prices, according to officers.

Wednesday, Orlando police said thieves are targeting a U-Haul company.

Gas was siphoned out of trucks in the 100 block of Suddath Drive.

Investigators said 80 gallons of gas were taken sometime between Friday night and Monday morning.

Officers admit, with the price of gas, this is a growing problem, Local 6's Erick Webber reported.

Retail gasoline hit another record high this week. The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline rose to $3.533, up more than two cents from the previous day's price of $3.511, according to auto group AAA.

Some analysts expect it to approach $4 a gallon this summer, when demand is at a peak.

Device Used To 'Hack' Pumps

Meanwhile, police are investigating an organized theft ring that used a never-before-seen device to hack gas station pumps and steal unlimited amounts of gasoline in Casselberry last week.

At least five cars filled with members of the alleged gas-pump hackers were spotted bypassing pumps at a Hess station located on 17-92 in Casselberry late Monday.

"One of the operatives (got) out and used a computerized device to bypass the pumps so they could pump an unlimited amount of gas into the vehicles," Casselberry police Lt. Dennis Stewart said.

Stewart said the officers were noticed watching the crime.

"The group uses spotters and one of the spotters discovered the officers and went over and stuck her head in a window to determine that they were officers," Stewart said.

The woman then signaled the other vehicles, police said.

Investigators said the group scattered, jumping into their vehicles and driving in different directions.

One vehicle remained and tried to run over an officer, police said.

"He wound up striking the officer in the ribs and arm, knocking him backward," Stewart said.

Nearby officers stopped the vehicle as it left the area and arrested Chelsea Harris, 19, and Rhyeen Brinson, 25. Both were charged with felonies.

The other people at the gas station are still missing.

Casselberry police said they had never seen the device or technology used to steal gasoline.

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