LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A warning from Metro Police: Beware of people who are using stolen credit cards to buy gasoline. Metro said after they purchase it, they store and sell the gas in valley neighborhoods.
According to Metro, it’s the most organized crime detectives have investigated involving fuel. The scheme spans multiple jurisdictions and required the assistance of other law enforcement agencies in Clark County, along with the Secret Service.
Police say people are using stolen credit cards to make purchases of 100, 200 and even 300 gallons of gas at a time. Metro released a PSA Thursday that shows modified cars and vans with hidden containers to hold the fuel for transport.
The criminals then sell the gas in neighborhoods or store it in large tanks at homes. There’s no law against the number of fuel people can buy or have on their property, but firefighters concerns include the unsafe transfer of gas to other cars and improper storage which may cause an explosion.
Last year, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue responded to a truck with a large amount of gas igniting in a garage. That wasn’t the only case of gasoline causing a fire in the valley. First responders worry similar situations may happen with hotter days ahead of us.
“This is something that can level the neighborhood and cost people their lives,” said Lt. Shane Womack, the financial and cyber crime lieutenant for Metro Police.
“Vapors are what burn, not the fuel,” said Clark County Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief John Wiercinski. “With vapor, as the temperature heats up here in Southern Nevada, and there’s an increase of this vapor that moves out, it can find an ignition source.”
Police arrested and charged more than 25 people in the last 18 months in this case. Law enforcement says the fuel thieves are also bringing the gas here from bordering states.
The PSA will air at Terrible Gas Stations. It’ll advise drivers on what to look for including someone using multiple credit cards, and taking more than 20 minutes to fill up at the pump.
There are also trucks with external containers and two separate gas tanks. Police also encourage you to call police if you notice a strong smell of gas in your neighborhood.