Adding another “Florida Man” story to the growing list, a man in Florida was arrested in mid-September for plotting to steal diesel fuel. Donald Fowler, 47, had been driving an SUV hauling a trailer when he was pulled over by a Polk County deputy; his vehicle had no tags and he was driving without his lights on.
Upon pulling Fowler over, the deputy (who was a PCSO detective with the Agricultural Crimes Unit) discovered a 500-gallon plastic tank in the trailer, as well as a transfer universal fuel pump device, a pair of bolt cutters, a pipe wrench, and a glove in the backseat. Fowler then admitted his intent to steal diesel fuel and was taken to jail.
It was later discovered that Fowler had already cut the chain in the fence surrounding Putnam’s Citrus Grove, which held a pump shed and several gallons of fuel — while he was detained, somebody else had broken in and stolen around 60 gallons of the stuff.
It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Logic seems to dictate that, if you’re going to steal anything diesel related, you should go for the engine parts: diesel fuel pumps and diesel filtration systems, or any of the components involved in diesel fuel systems rather than the fuel itself. A fuel lift pump or universal fuel pump has to run for more than “black market” diesel, right? Apparently not.
The country has been struggling quite a great deal with people stealing diesel. It’s supposed to be less risky than selling drugs, and the money is easy — criminals can make $1,000 or more a day re-selling the stolen fuel. They certainly have a market for it; around 10% of all trucks sold in the U.S. are diesel engine trucks, and that’s not including all of the construction vehicle and equipment that runs on diesel.
Perpetrators of the crime use credit card “skimmers”, which record the card information of unsuspecting customers as they fuel up, and then transfer this information onto the magnetic strip of a counterfeit card. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami are the hot spots for diesel theft, with some gangs making away with nearly $20 million a year.