Vigilant Brevard Sheriff’s Economic Crime Unit Agents Nail Gasoline Theft Suspect
By Wayne Ivey, Brevard County Sheriff // April 19, 2018
Agents Justin Wood and Michael Thomas Commended by Sheriff Wayne Ivey for their actions
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Agent Justin Wood of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crime’s Unit observed a white diesel van last week leaving the gas pumps of a gas station in Viera acting in a very suspicious manner.
As a result, Agent Wood contacted the gas station management and was advised the male driver, later identified as 28-year-old Alexander Lemus Lopez of West Palm Beach, had pumped 28 gallons of diesel fuel into the van.
Agent Wood was able to use a search engine to research the suspect vehicle’s gas tank capacity and coupled with his observations, believed the vehicle was carrying a fuel bladder that is commonly used to steal fuel from stores utilizing stolen or skimmed credit cards as the method of payment.
Based on his findings, Agent Wood initiated a surveillance on the vehicle and observed it as it parked at a nearby restaurant, which Agent Wood then observed Lopez entering.
Agent Michael Thomas, who had responded to assist in the investigation, then entered the restaurant to assist in the continued surveillance and observed Lopez as he entered and quickly vacated the men’s restroom before returning to his vehicle and leaving the parking lot.
The Agents subsequently stopped the vehicle in the area of Eau Gallie and Wickham Road at which time Agent Wood approached the vehicle, and could immediately smell a strong odor of gasoline coming from inside.
Lopez gave consent to a search of the van, at which time a 250-gallon fuel bladder and attached fuel hose were discovered.
Lopez was then placed under arrest for Obtaining Fuel by Fraudulent Means.
Following the arrest, the Agents returned to the restaurant restroom where a wallet and money cards were recovered from the trash can. A subsequent check of the cards revealed personal credit card information encoded on the cards of suspected victims as well as the money card used to fuel the van in Viera.
Lopez was transported to the Brevard County Jail on a $3,000 Bond.
The investigation is on-going for the purposes of identifying and locating the victims associated with the credit card information that was recovered as well as potential other charges against the suspect.
This is a great example of good old-fashioned police work and I couldn’t be more proud of Justin and Mike for their efforts, as these types of organizations do hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent activities each year while also targeting thousands of innocent victims.
Please join me in thanking Justin and Mike for their commitment and dedication to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and to protecting our citizens.
– Sheriff Wayne Ivey
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