FHP seizes vehicles involved in stolen gas, identity theft operations

WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Officials in South Florida are cracking down on an illegal operation involving stolen gas and identity theft.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers have been seizing vehicles rigged to carry stolen fuel across Miami-Dade.

FHP wants the public to know exactly how catastrophic the outcome can be if one of the vehicles illegally transporting gasoline is involved in an accident.

“All of these trucks are essentially moving bombs,” said FHP Trooper Alexis Otano.

Demonstrating just how cleverly hidden the gasoline is, FHP said it only adds to the dangers.

“When you open the tool box, there’s a hidden tank that goes right through there,” said Otano.

One of the confiscated vehicles was a flat-bed truck that sounds hollow if you knock on the bed because it’s been rigged to store massive amounts of fuel.

There were also more inconspicuous vehicles, like an SUV that is typically used as a family vehicle.

“This one’s an Expedition. It just looks like a regular Expedition, a family car,” said Otano, “But in reality, inside, when I stopped the vehicle for a seat belt violation, it has a fuel pump hiding behind the baby car seat. That fuel pump connects to a 150-160 gallon tank. This is very dangerous, if this car gets rear-ended, this is a bomb; it’s gonna explode.”

There have been numerous arrests and seven cars seized recently.

“All of these vehicles are linked to identity theft,” said FHP Lt. Alex Camacho.

Troopers said crooks are using skimmers at gas stations to steal people’s information. They then produce phony gift cards to buy tons of gas.

“These individuals, with those gift cards, with our information, are purchasing fuel with our money, and they’re reselling it on the street,” said Camacho.

The most recent incident, occurring last week, on July 5, involved more than a dozen cases of stolen information.

“This one had 30 credit cards, gift cards with identity and other people,” said Otano, “I found these cards inside this headrest.”

FHP is continuing to crack down on those performing the dangerous and illegal acts.

“This is huge, not only is it a hazard for motorists in the street, because of the potential catastrophic results,” said Camacho, “But it’s also linked to identity theft and so many thousands of residents in South Florida are being victims to identity theft.”

The creativity of how the crooks store the stolen fuel has proven to be challenging for law enforcement, but they assure those committing these acts they will eventually be caught.

If you have any information on any of these illegal operations, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.

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