AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two suspects are in custody after police say they were caught stealing large quantities of fuel from at least two gas stations.
Austin police have charged Alejandro Alvarez, 34; Gilibaldo Puente, 48; Luis Turcio Gutierrez, 34; and Ramiro Jasso, 38, with engaging in organized criminal activity.
Austin police were notified April 4 about a pair of 7-Eleven’s reporting large amounts of gas being stolen over the past year. Video surveillance led investigators to believe the same people were behind both thefts, police said.
Investigators said Puente would use a screwdriver to pry the front panel of the pump open and then put his hand inside the pump to manipulate the gears.
“That allows the gas to flow freely without the clerk being notified,” explained Detective Rickey Jones.
As many as nine vehicles staged nearby would then take turns filling up their tanks and gas containers.
“A lot of these vehicles are trucks with bladders in the back and bladders can hold 20-40 gallons,” explained Jones. “One time, they had a 55 gallon drum they filled up.”
The video also showed one of the suspects taking payments for the stolen gas at the station, located at 8600 E. U.S. Highway 290 in Northeast Austin, authorities said.
On April 13, the same suspects were caught stealing from another 7-Eleven at 525 W. Slaughter Lane. Several other vehicles positioned nearby fled the scene. In the past year, the two 7-Eleven gas stations had more than $100,000 worth of fuel stolen.
While APD’s investigation currently focuses on these two locations, authorities believe the scam runs much further.
“This extends up and down I-35, past Austin, down through New Braunfels and San Antonio,” said Jones.
Police expect to identify and arrest more suspects in the case.
Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call the Region 3 Detectives at 512-974-4297 or 512-974-6973.