Thieves Snatch Almost $20,000 Worth Of Fuel From Gas Station

Gas thieves have stolen over 5,000 gallons of fuel from the Open Pantry Citgo in Wauwatosa, WI according to

The district manager of Open Pantry Citgo, 11216 W. Blue Mound Road, reported that 4,909 gallons of gas, valued at $19,374, was removed from the underground tanks sometime between July 16 and Aug. 13.

He told police the pressure of the tanks, supply and feed lines have been tested with no indication of cracks or seeping, and the petroleum supply company has verified the delivered amounts.

Police in Wauwatosa thing the culprits were customers who prepaid for their gas and then tampered with the pumps in order to “acquire more gas than the pumps should allow.” Naturally, they didn’t explain the details of this technique.

Gas Thieves Take Nearly 5,000 Gallons [WauwatosaNow] (Thanks, Austin!)
(Photo: northernplateguy )


Edit Your Comment

  1. drdom says:

    Complete and utter hogwash.

  2. iEddie says:

    Not to be a spelling nazi, but there’s a typo: “Police in Wauwatosa thing” (should be think).

  3. Joewithay says:

    Hugo Chávez won’t be happy

  4. xwildebeestx says:

    arrr, me smells a rat…

  5. BrianDaBrain says:

    Don’t the have security cameras or something? I would think that (assuming this was a gradual theft of 5,000 gallons and not just some random customer with a tanker driving off with 5,000 gallons in a single trip) that you’d notice missing petrolium well before you reached the 5,000 gallon mark. I mean, I’d think I would notice if even a fifth of that was missing. I also have no idea how they track how much gasoline is kept underground, but I still think they should have some way of noticing that.

    On a side note, how do you say the name of that town? Wow-a-tosa??

  6. Marshfield says:

    where do you put 5000 gallons of gas? That’s 200 25-gallon fillups.

    Or do you just drive a tanker truck up at 3:00 AM when there’s nobody around?

  7. Joewithay says:
  8. snoop-blog says:

    I tried to tell investors that demand is not going down, it’s just that theft is going up….

  9. LorneReams says:

    It could have been stolen in small amounts over a couple of weeks.

  10. chipslave says:

    Most of the gas pump POS are still run by Windoze NT4 SP4 or 6… *shudder*

    At least the ones around ND and MN seem to be.

  11. FrankenPC says:

    $20,000? About 10 gallons of gas?

  12. Ragman says:

    @chipslave: Hey, it could be worse – they could be running Windoze Me.

    I’ll go off the deep end and say that the gas station is shamming. They aren’t reporting the cash purchases and saying the crooks have figured out how to hack the pumps.*

    *For those who don’t have a sense of humor, that was a joke.

  13. FatLynn says:


  14. Tzepish says:

    Well at least $20,000 in fuel isn’t very much fuel these days…

  15. iCanhasLs2plz says:


    I understand what you did there.

  16. smackswell says:

    @BrianDaBrain: That’s EXACTLY how you say it.

  17. klwillis45 says:

    Close Brian. It’s wow-wah-toe-sah

  18. East_Coast_Midwesterner says:


    Grew up near there.

    Locals call it, “Wow-Wa-Tow-Sa” or just Tosa.

    I grew up in Waukesha. Try that on for size. and no, it is not Wa-Key-sha.

    F-ing Indians and their crazy names.

  19. chipslave says:

    Damn drunken ‘sconies…

  20. FijianTribe says:

    Its possible to do and not as difficult as most might think….

    It’s going to be very difficult though to prove.

  21. mzhartz says:

    @East_Coast_Midwesterner: Waukesha: Wah-ka-shaw, right?

    My favorite to say is Oconomowoc.

    Back on topic, something sounds fishy here. Nearly 5000 gallons of gas stolen gradually over 4 weeks seems like a lot. Is hacking into the gas pump really that easy to do without drawing attention to yourself?

  22. Fuzz says:

    Totally poor station management. We used to take dips before opening, at shift change, and at the end of the day and verify amounts with what the pumps said. Every day. It doesn’t take long, and they would have noticed something fishy the first time this happened. Not a month. Not trying to blame the victim here, but fool me once, shame on you, fool me for a month, tough f*in’ luck.

  23. vpsychward1 says:


    My cousins live in Oconomowoc. It might be hard to say, but it’s really easy to spell.

    Anyway, I bet the pumps are faulty. Or that the station is scamming their insurance company in some way. You have to report the fuel stolen in order to make any claim.

  24. avantartist says:

    It’s a scam that can be done at very few gas stations. it would have been split up into 400 +/- transactions. Someone told me about the scam a few months ago and i didn’t believe him until he showed me. I’d give details but that would be “bad consumer” of me.

  25. jswilson64 says:

    Happened here in Dallas, too. Thieves used a remote control (used by gas pump installers/servicers) to reprogram the pumps.

  26. CrumpsBrother says:

    @East_Coast_Midwesterner: I believe it is pronounced “the ‘sha”. Or “City of Losers”, take your pick. I say that as a former Northstar.

  27. MayorBee says:

    @FatLynn: That really is the best line in that movie.

    @Fuzz: Same here, but we stuck the tanks once a day, every morning. The results had to be sent in by a certain time so corporate could report to what was, at the time, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (or was it Committee?). They were able to take your previous day’s inventory, add any deliveries, subtract your sales, and come up with what your new starting inventory was. If you were short, either someone was stealing or the tank was leaking.

    From what I understand, if the pumps are old enough (with the manual dials instead of electronic readouts), there’s a way to stick a screwdriver in the gears so the pump works but the wheels for the price don’t move. This may be how they were making the pump dispense free gas, but it doesn’t explain how the store didn’t notice after more than 100 gallons was missing.

  28. GrandizerGo says:

    I never worked at a gas station, so this is taken with a grain of salt…
    But, if someone is taking gas, wouldn’t it report to you the owner, the amount of gas pumped, the price of the gas pumped, and the pump used???

    So if someone reprogrammed the machine, wouldn’t it still report the false information?

    Maybe this place only has manual pumps? Though I thought I read on here that the manual pumps only went up to 1.99 and 9/10ths…

  29. badhatharry says:

    I think Lifehacker needs an article on how to do this.

  30. Nick says:

    I also don’t buy this. Since the district manager (and not the station manager) noticed this, I’d guess the station employees (manager included) were letting their friends fill up for free.

    Interesting side note: I grew up six blocks away from that station, and walked past it to go to school every day for almost 10 years.

  31. Ashground says:

    I’ll believe it when I see how it’s done.

    Seriously, please show me how it’s done.

  32. usern4me says:

    It’s amazing how lot of people think it’s ok to rip off gas stations, yet you people complain and whine to no end when you think you’ve been wronged. It’s very easy to rig the pumps, go Google it. Basically anyone can program these pumps without ever setting a foot inside the store.

    Some of you seem to think that gas stations are the ones making huge amounts of money off high gas prices, yet $20,000 worth of gas getting stolen would kill most independent owners.

  33. audemars says:

    co-sign badhatharry. that post would be the best ever.

  34. cyberdog says:

    Sounds like some people-friends were getting some free gas. Maybe the employees and boss decided to filler up for free. The District Manager caught the descrepency and the Store Manager reported it stolen… Sounds like an insurance scam to me…

  35. usern4me says:

    The fuel pumped would not have registered on the POS system. Really hard to catch until you do monthly inventory/environmental reports, or have a manager that’s really on top of things. Not saying that it can’t be a inside job, just saying that it can happen.

  36. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    I call bullsh*t. All stations are required to have tank monitors that tell you how many inches of fuel, gallons of fuel, ullage, how much water, et al. You get those every morning, and you’d notice long before you hit the 5k mark if you’re at an even moderately busy station. You’d freakin’ run out of gas.

  37. CaptainConsumer says:

    We had a situation here in Ann Arbor Michigan a couple years ago. A Meijer gas station was the victim. A manager had figured out swiping a drivers license at the pump acted the same as swiping a credit or debit card and of course cost the ‘shopper’ zero dollars as not many people have money in their drivers license accounts LOL.

    So, manager told a couple friends who told a couple more and well you get the idea. Thousands of gallons were ‘missing’. Trouble for the scammers was the machine was at least collecting info off of the drivers licenses used in the heists.


  38. usern4me says:

    “…was removed from the underground tanks sometime between July 16 and Aug. 13.”

    Almost a month time, it’ll be kind of hard to notice little over 100 gallons a day.

  39. WisconsinDadof2 says:

    I live in Wauwatosa (“Tosa”) and have been to that station recently. My fill up didn’t seem any cheaper, so I guess I didn’t get the ‘lucky’ pump, or at least wasn’t aware of the scam….. Seems like an awful lot of gas gone missing – I used to work at a station too, and we checked the levels every night. There must be more to the story. I’ll share any neighborhood gossip here!

    There’s another town nearby where the owner didn’t pay the gas distributor for all his underground tanks, and essentially ran them dry, before they could otherwise close him down, I guess, then left the country. We were figuring about $100,000 worth he got away with.

  40. SpdRacer says:

    @BrianDaBrain: a big stick with graduated markings on it

  41. thrashanddestroy says:

    Thieves? Or heroes? I commend these fine gentlemen, now if only everyone would start stealing gas…it would sure as hell be a lot more effective than those ridiculous “avoid fueling up on said date” attempts.

  42. reiyaku says:

    actually, this is utter simple… these days we have electronic pumps… well, u know those guys at the department of energy, when you complain to them about a gas station that seems to not give you the right amount of what youre paying for… they come down and actually test those pumps… they have electronic cards and pins (not credit cards by the way and by no means it charges the department of energy aka free gas for testing) that they slide in the card slots and lets them pull to any quantity of gas… some machines dont even used these cards, just an electronic code… from what i heard from the truck drivers of a tanker, these guys protect these codes like crazy… cause or else… someone is getting free gas… but dont take my word for it… im merely twisting your leg… =P

  43. HunterZ says:

    The summary says “over 5000 gallons” but the quote says 4909. Oops?

  44. yashichi8bit says:



  45. gladiatory2k says:

    See the real issue is people have been filling their gas up at 4:00 am when it’s cooler. As we know, cooler gas gives you more gas….right?

  46. allthatsevil says:

    Here’s one way to do it:

    And that’s not the only story I’ve heard like that, nor the only method.

  47. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Somehow I doubt it was stolen 2 gallons at a time…there would have to be a whole band of tech-savvy criminals to pull that off.

    I would vote for an employee letting their friends fill up for free or perhaps somebody making repeat visits to fill up their Hummer with a siphon hose.

  48. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    @allthatsevil: And who would know that the gasoline tanker sitting there at 2 AM is taking gas out of the tanks instead of putting it in.

  49. usa_gatekeeper says:

    About 3,500 gallons of fuel delivered in July to a small corner gas station in Milford, Massachusetts, seeped into the ground shortly after delivery.

    This then led to the revelation that 10,000 gallons from at least the preceding eight days was “unaccounted for”.

  50. Brunette Bookworm says:

    @mzhartz: I doubt it. My dad used to do maintenance on them, I’ll have to find out from him but I doubt it’s some hack all these people knew. It’s either something malfunctioning on the pump that wasn’t charging people for gas but letting them get it and manager/owner was too cheap to fix, the store is trying a scam or someone inside the store/company stole the gas.

  51. É®îç says:

    Try #2 in Jalopnik’s The Five Best Ways To Steal Gas.

    “Instructions: Pull a trailer fitted with a trap door, a large tank and a pump over a gas station’s underground reservoir. While you pretend to make repairs under the hood, have an assistant open the trailer’s trap door, insert a pipe down into the reservoir and then pump out the gas.”

  52. dweebster says:

    @East_Coast_Midwesterner: Yeah, those f’ing indians ought to learn proper english or go back to their native….


  53. Seanross says:

    “We used to take dips before opening”

    In the gasoline? damn you guys were rich!

  54. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    I’m from Wisconsin. It’s pronounced “OPEN PANTY”, in “WA WA TOE SA.”

  55. BillsBurg says:

    @East_Coast_Midwesterner: Is it Walk-a-sha?

  56. BillsBurg says:

    @usa_gatekeeper: Ohh, can we say hazardous site???

  57. 5000 gallons?

    I smell employee misconduct. Time for some good ole police investigating.

  58. jennieblue22 says:

    @Corporate-Shill: i agree…

    apparently it’s also increasingly common (at least according to my local news) in the poorer neighborhoods of north texas to stick a thin pipe in the gas tank of the parked car of an unsuspecting victim, use their mouths as a vacuum and actually suck the gas into the tube, then blow it out into a container to collect the gasoline until they’ve emptied the tank, then fill their own empty tanks with their newfound source of free gas…

    it’s really sickening, what some greedy people do to others simply to get their hands on some free gas… i understand that prices are high, but honestly…

  59. quail says:

    @East_Coast_Midwesterner: I know that the native americans created their written language somewhere around the 1900’s. From that I deduce it was the crazy French who wrote Native American words the way they thought the should be spelled in French.

    How saner the world would’ve been if a Southern Bubba had spelled out what he heard.

  60. lorenjfisher says:

    how do they even know it is theft? maybe their machine is just broken and is giving out more gas than it’s supposed to?

  61. slowinthefastlane says:


    Go back to their native Russia?


  62. scootinger says:

    maybe they should have closed the pantry.

    hahaha I just had to say it.

  63. Justifan says:

    too risky for someone knowing enough to crack pay card security.
    you’d be caught on camera buying gas sooner or later.
    my guess is whoever cracked it just sold the cards to others. it wouldn’t be hard to sell prepaid gas cards these days!

  64. jeffjco says:

    a) Sounds like someone took the “Open Pantry” seriously.

    b) Boy, there sure have been a lot of $5.00 pre-pays for pump #3 today….

  65. zibby says:

    In my zit-faced gas pumping phase, we used to check fuel levels by sticking a 12-foot long “yardstick” in the tanks every day; this would have been noticed in a day, two days tops. I guess the old ways are the best ways sometimes.

  66. AMetamorphosis says:

    These pumps can be hacked.

    Back in 2003 a local gas station installed pumps that were either pre-pay or debit/credit card.

    Without giving away the details, I was able to use “prepaid” cards 3x for each one purchased, effectively allowing me to steal gas.

    I took the time to tell the manager that I was able to do this and she stated that she was not surprised and that 100 of gallons of gasoline were showing missing each month. I suggested to her that I would be willing to preform one of these to show her how and she stated that the owners were @ssholes and she didn’t care.

    I continued filling my car for several months this way with no concern for the cameras. Eventually, the station closed down and my engine blew up …

    The point is, these can be hacked … usually it is with insider knowledge. In this instance I just happended upon a flaw in the programming of these stations pumps.

    PS. Don’t try this yourself … its not woth the karmic price.

  67. Voiceoftreason80 says:

    Please someone post how to do this…. I wont do it I promise…..

    Its about time to bleed the oil companies dry, like they have been doing to us for so long.

  68. Meathamper says:

    The tags say “Bad Consumer”, but the theives didn’t even buy anything!

  69. RifRaf says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is…i mean $20,000 worth is like what – a full tank these days?

  70. mrearly2 says:

    I doubt there was any “snatching” going on, but pumping.