Rash of Fuel Thefts Hit South Florida

Criminals are moving large amounts of stolen gas in converted SUVs and trucks.

November 13, 2019

MIAMI—Criminals are stealing large amounts of gasoline and trucking the fuel across South Florida in converted SUVs and trucks, Sun Sentinel reports. Law enforcement tagged these modified vehicles as “moving bombs” because of the potential for explosions if involved in an accident.

“They’re out there, they’re so common—trying to blend with people who go to work every day,” said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Alexis Otano. “God forbid one of these vehicles gets into an accident.”

Theft of gasoline has also been on the rise, with 16 people charged as of early November in Broward County, up from 10 in 2018. In comparison, seven people were charged with gas theft between 2013 and 2017. The Florida Highway Patrol’s Troop E, which operates in Miami-Dade County, has caught more than two dozen vehicles outfitted with concealed fuel compartments over the past two years.

Authorities say the gas theft rings are well organized, using fake credit cards to purchase the gas, then reselling it on the black market. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida has had 10 credit card fraud and fuel theft cases over the past two years. The thieves often use skimmers at the pump to steal credit card numbers, which they then use to siphon off gas.