Miami man accused of stealing nearly $800 in fuel from JeffCo ga - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Miami man accused of stealing nearly $800 in fuel from JeffCo gas station

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Lazaro Veliz. Source: Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Lazaro Veliz. Source: Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -

A Miami man was caught stealing hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel by using an electronic device that masked the true amount of fuel he was taking from a gas station in Jefferson County.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office first began investigating after the managers of a gas station in the 2100 block of Eastern Valley Road noticed a discrepancy in their fuel logs. The gas station was missing 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on Thursday, March 13, and there was no explanation for where it had gone.

A detective told the store's manager to monitor their diesel fuel sales and report any suspicious activity to the sheriff's office, Chief Deputy Randy Christian said.

A clerk at the store called deputies around 2:45 a.m. Saturday, March 15 to report suspicious activity when a customer arrived to fuel up a tractor trailer. The clerk noted the level of diesel in the in-ground tanks before and after the customer fueled up.

"The pump indicated that the customer had only pumped 24.599 gallons of diesel for a cost of $93.45. However, the tank levels indicated that 209 gallons had been dispensed for a cost of $793.99," Christian said.

Detectives continued to investigate and found that the customer opened the pump cover and used a "plug and play" electronic device that changed pump's reading to show less fuel had been taken.

Authorities arrested the customer, Lazaro Yuced Veliz, 29, of Miami, and charged him with second degree theft of property and possession of burglary tools. Veliz is being held in the Jefferson County Jail on no bond.

"It doesn't appear very elaborate. You're mostly plugging in electronic components and motors," said Lt. Don Edge with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said about a homemade electronic device used to steal hundreds of dollars in diesel fuel.

Lt. Edge says the device is used to alter the reading on the pump that shows how much fuel is dispensed.

"It's bizarre. You would have to know something about electronics and computer systems at gas stations or how they account for fuel sales to be able to come up with a way to interrupt or slow down numbers," said Lt. Edge. "There's a huge profit margin for the criminals. We need, if we can, to make the station owners aware of it. Then we can eliminate a lot of the problem."

Edge believes more of these devices could end up on the streets. He says gas stations and truck stops need to be on the lookout.

"Just be aware of this potential. Anything they can do to hardened their pumps or be a little more attentive."

A similar case happened in Clanton this month. Officers there say two truck drivers were arrested for stealing more than $14,000 in diesel using an electronic device. The suspects in that case and the Jefferson County case are all from Miami, but deputies do not believe the crimes are connected.

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