Miami-Dade County

Miami police looking for brazen gas thieves

For the third time in the past two years, thieves have targeted a gasoline station, stealing 275 gallons of precious petrol in 90 minutes. This time, the station owner hopes his surveillance tape will lead to the capture of the thieves who stole gasoline valued at a total of $1150.

Frank Veloso showed CBS4’s Peter D’Oench the surveillance tape of the theft of the fuel from one of his main pumps. The crime wave started at 9:30 Tuesday night and last 90 minutes.

The masterminds of the crime may have used a crowbar to break open the door of the gas pump.

“Then they dislodged one lever,” said Veloso. “It happens where they do this and they take the most expensive product, which is premium. And maybe they have Twitter accounts or text messages and they allow their friends to come around.”

With premium gasoline at $4.35 a gallon, Veloso admits the gasoline is a tempting target. He was victimized in April by a thief who took 20 gallons after breaking into a pump and two years ago, he was victimized for the first time when gasoline prices spiked. “Each time, it’s been because gas has risen above $4 a gallon,” said Veloso.

“This is a mom and pop store,” said Veloso. “This has been in our family for over 40 years. It’s something that hurts.”

Veloso says he has taken steps to curb the crime at his Chevron station on S.W. 8th St. at 22nd Avenue. He has added extra locks to the doors of his pumps and police have stepped up their patrols in the area.

“This is very, very upsetting to me,” said Veloso. “I was very angry. Part of me wanted to laugh because they were so brazen. That these people can come here and even when there are a lot of customers here, that they could find a way to steal fuel for an hour and a half.”

Veloso is sharing his surveillance tape with police and has photos of some of the people who stole gas.

The surveillance tape shows that 16 vehicles were involved. One red van is even seen blocking the view from a cashier’s window.

An alert customer tipped employees that the theft was happening.

“The message is that you are going to get caught. I’m going to make it my mission along with the Police department for whoever sees this broadcast to please call the authorities and find you. Sooner or later, we’re going to find you. You are going to get caught.”

Veloso is not alone. He has spoken to other station owners who have been victimized in this way.

If you know anything at all, call Miami Police or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305 471-TIPS (8477).