Metro gives FOX5 an inside look at modified trucks targeting gas stations

Record prices are making gas a target for criminals. Police said modified vehicles are being used to steal fuel. (Source: KVVU)
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 5:47 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Record prices are making gas a big target for criminals. Highly modified vehicles are being used to steal tens of thousands of gallons from local gas stations. Metro says it is a huge problem in Las Vegas, one they are determined to stop.

“Unfortunately, with the rise in fuel prices, we have an increase in fuel theft,” shared Lt. Jeff Swanbeck with LVMPD’s Financial Crimes Section.

Some gas stations have been hit for thousands of gallons and they will continue to go back until the tank is drained. That is thousands of dollars in losses for these gas stations and sometimes it almost gets to the point where it puts them out of business,” said Lt. Swanbeck.

In a secret location, Metro showed FOX5 modified trucks taken from gas thieves in the last few months.

“These thieves are very sophisticated. They will take a truck that looks just like a normal truck, like a freeway service truck, and there is intricate pipping inside them,” added Lt. Swanbeck.

One make-shift gas tanker, towing a horse trailer also filled with tanks of stolen fuel, was stopped by Metro in Jean on the way to California where the gas can be sold for more than in Nevada.

Investigators say the thieves are brazen. They steal gas in plain sight, in front of people filling up at the pump who have no idea a crime is being committed right next to them.

“They will open up the gas pump itself and there is a series of gears inside there, and they are smart enough to figure out how to manipulate the gears,” explained Lt. Swanbeck.

A big clue something is up, if a truck is at the gas pump for hours which is often how long it takes to steal thousands of gallons.

“If somebody pays with a $20 gift card and they are out there for an hour and a half pumping gas, that should be suspicious... If something looks funny or if you see anybody open the side of a gas pump, let the clerk know, let authorities know,” Lt. Swanbeck requested.

The LVMPD Financial Crimes Section has made felony arrests in fuel thefts across the Vegas Valley, not just the people stealing the gas but even those modifying the vehicles.