Two arrested for stealing fuel
LEE COUNTY- A Bradenton Man and a partner arrested on multiple felonies related to stealing gas in Fort Myers. 33-year-old Juan Alfredo Escanola Hidalgo of Bradenton and 42-year-old Raul Torralba of Lehigh Acres were arrested at a gas station in Ft Myers Monday driving a stolen truck.
“Commercial Vehicle Enforcement troopers noticed there was a big rig,” Trooper Kenn Watson said. “That looked a little odd, upon further investigation, they realized the fuel tanks had been modified.”
Troopers also found a credit card skimmer, stolen credit cards and a laptop used in an operation to steal fuel.
“They literally taken that semi-tractor trailer,” Watson said. “And added those additional fuel tanks, which is going to take time, effort and money to do this, we assume they had been doing this for several months.”
Florida Highway Patrol says stolen gas operations usually try to sell the gas for cheap to agricultural operations.
“If someone approaches you and you are a farmer,” Watson said. “Do not take stolen fuel, you know if someone is offering to sell you that gas well below market price, notify law enforcement immediately, if a deal is too good to be true it most certainly is.”
Gas stations and customers should also check fuel pumps before you purchase gas to make sure they have not been tampered with.
“Take the time to make sure the equipment that we are using has not been tampered with,” Watson said. “A very close visual view is all you need, and you’ll be able to tell if someone had placed a skimmer in there.”
Both men were booked into the Lee County Jail.