Editor’s Note 6/22/22: This article has been updated with quotes from Deputy Police Chief Juan Gonzalez.

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – The Pharr Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying suspects in a diesel theft case.

Photo of the device found inside the gas pump. [Courtesy: Pharr PD]

On Saturday, June 18, 2022, officers received a call from a Stripes store clerk, located at 1901 N. Tesoro in Pharr, in reference to a suspected theft of diesel fuel, according to a press release from the Pharr PD.

The employee had become suspicious after noticing a pickup truck had been parked at the pump for a long period of time without registering any activity.

Upon arrival, deputies discovered an abandoned makeshift device inside the fuel pump that was being used to bypass the system that registers inside the store.

After investigating, police discovered that the station had been targeted several times and $8,000 to $10,000 worth of diesel has been stolen from the location.

Police believe that there are several people and vehicles involved in the scheme. Police have tracked down a suspect and one suspected vehicle. Police are also looking for the following vehicles:

  • 3500 Black Dodge Ram (2012-2014)
  • Gold Ford F-250 (2010)
  • Gray Chevy Tahoe (2016-2017)

Suspected people and vehicles:

Vehicle recovered during the investigation and believed to have been used during this operation:

Deputy Police Chief Juan Gonzalez tells ValleyCentral that those who are involved may have inside knowledge. 

“It is more of a sophisticated type of device where I would think this person would have to know a little bit about not only the device but the machine and how you can have that authorized,” Gonzalez said. 

While some of the suspects have been caught on camera. Gonzalez believes this case may not have been an isolated incident. 

“There are probably other gas stations that this did happen to,” Gonzalez said. “What happens is that as soon as they use the device and as soon as they get the gasoline then they remove the device relock it up and then they go to the next gasoline of their choice.”

Gonzalez said this type of device has usually been found in bigger Texas cities like Houston and Dallas. Investigators believe scammers are now coming to smaller cities where store owners are not aware. 

Pharr Police are urging local gas stations to keep a closer eye on their pumps. 

“I would just talk to employees to be vigilant, in this case, the employees are not going to see on their end of the cash register that the pump is on,” Gonzalez said. “So, they do have to be aware that I got this car on this lane I got this car at spot number 8 or number 5.”  

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Pharr Crime Stoppers at 956-787-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous.