13 JULY 2010 -- PENSKE-NORTH GAS THEFT VIDEOS
Date: July 13, 2010 - 00:00 Hours EDT
Clearer, higher resolution copies of this video can be produced upon request.)
Gas thieves hit Penske-North some 6 times since March, 2010. Five of those times were within 44 days, and twice they hit on back-to-back days.
This is a video which was actually being finished up and about to put up on the web when the Gainesville Sun produced the articles about the gas thefts going on around town. However, the Sun didn't seem to have the full story. It wasn't just U-Haul on Main Street that had been affected.
These criminals were very brave. They were either very extremely smart, or they were the biggest idiots on the face of the planet. THEY KEPT COMING BACK! And not only that, but when they'd come they'd stay for a LONG, LONG time, putting themselves at risk of getting caught.
After the fifth hit, Penske purchased a security camera and set up video monitoring.
On July 13th, the thieves hit again, and this time they were caught on tape. You can't see faces or plates, but you CAN see method of operation, perfectly. On this tape, you can see what they're doing. There is one individual doing all of the siphoning. (This matches the U-Haul MO.) There is another individual who remains in a vehicle, off-screen. He is both lookout and helper. He watches for cops and when it becomes necessary (this matches the U-Haul MO), he transports the full gas tanks collected by the siphon man across the street and hides them either in the ditch or in the forest across the street. They were sloppy and left pools of gas on the ground. (This also matches the U-Haul MO.)
Unbelievably, the police did NOT consider Penske's tape important for the sole fact that it did not show faces or plates. Therefore, they did not collect a copy of this tape and so they were not able to study it to see the mode of operation that was so obvious, in here. As a result, the criminals were able to keep hitting Penske - and OTHER businesses...repeatedly. As well, the State Attorney's Office was thus not even aware that any other businesses had been affected by other gas thefts. And again...nor were they thus aware that other tapes existed, or that fingerprints existed.
We suspect that they would hit Penske one week, U-Haul another, and god knows who else for another week. (We wish contact with any other businesses around town who were similarly affected.)
When you watch this tape, it becomes obvious that these men were very practiced at what they did, and acted more like professionals than newbie amateurs who didn't have a clue what they were doing. These two knew EXACTLY what they were doing. They had a method DOWN PAT. They weren't stupid. They were in fact extremely intelligent. They probably have a history of this.
If only they were as neat as they were practiced, though. These guys were sloppy, and spilled an awful lot of gas around on the pavement, leaving a huge haz-mat mess. They apparently were not charged with the similar violations at U-Haul, even though the sloppy mess there was noted in the Gainesville Sun article.
But what brought them down was an apparent unnatural tunnel-visioned focus on collecting this gas at any cost - even at risk of being caught, and in total ignorance of the fact that their victims were adding things like floodlights and cameras to the scenes.
What WAS so important about the collection of all of this gas? The papers say that they were selling it for $2 a gallon to "customers". To WHO? Is there even any INVESTIGATION of that? Who were their customers? Were they just some back-woods country rednecks who were friends of theirs? Or were actual BUSINESSES buying the gas from them? If businesses, then that's even MORE serious and those businesses NEED to be held partially responsible and accountable. ANYONE who bought this gas needs to be arrested. They HELPED these guys. They were "co-conspirators", "co-felons". The people who bought this gas encouraged these thieves to continue.
But what was the money USED for? Was it for the purchase of drugs? Crack? Cocaine? Marijuana? ...WHAT? WHY were they SO tunnel-visioned on collecting the gas? Were they on drugs, themselves? Were they sociopaths? Or worse yet ...were they armed? This is important information to know. All of these businesses have customers who drop trucks off at all hours of the day and night. What if a customer had accidentally interrupted the criminals? Would they end up harmed? Is this a stupid question? The police just weren't GETTING this. They didn't want the tape. They didn't set up stake-outs. They didn't compare the fingerprints taken at the Penske theft with the U-Haul theives. They didn't return phone calls. They just looked at the tape, laughed, and said, "Yup! That's THEM alright!" And then they filed a paper report. That was about it.
A CALL TO OTHER AFFFECTED BUSINESSES
If you were also affected by these criminals, and you have security monitor video, please share it with us and we will make a copy and place it up here. We would like to compare notes with other victims so that we can get a much wider and better understanding of just how many people these thieves affected, and a better idea of just how MUCH money they ripped us all off of.
Who ELSE was affected? We'd like to know. Just how many other businesses were stolen from? What specific days were YOU hit on? How many trucks were hit? How many gallons were taken from you, all told? What was the total estimated cost of YOUR losses? We'd like to compare notes on this kind of stuff so that we can all get a more accurate picture of what TRULY happened, and try to see the pattern. Then we can take all of this to the prosecution so as to help them do a better job of putting these jerks away for a good long time.
HIT THEM HARD
They should hit these guys as hard as they can. Looking at their criminal records, they're obviously hardened career criminals. It's all they seem to know. They have things in their records going back into the 80s. These guys obviously have no intent to change their ways. It's engrained into them. They've got burglary and violence and other charges against them going on in their past. Some were still ongoing as of the 23rd of July!
At any rate, the police should hit them with everything they possible can.
I notice that they haven't been hit with any hazmat violations. They should be hit for each occasion of spillage, just to tack on more charges. How many trucks were hit as U-Haul. I guarantee that there was a hazmat spillage for each and every one. That's just how they do it. A spillage by accident is one thing. But these were committed while in the commission of a crime, which makes them bigger.
Did they have a scanner in the vehicle? On or off, scanners while mobile are illegal in the state of Florida. That's Chapter 843.16. I know this because I TRACK such laws on my website: Mobile Scanner & Radar-Detector Laws In The U/S..
Did they have any weaponry in the vehicle? They're felons. You're not allowed to have ANYTHING that could be considered a weapon: guns, knives, bows, clubs, etc.
What else? Let's see...
UPDATE - 07/29/2010
Been doing some research on the guys who pulled this. The information is available off the Alachua County Clerk of the Court web site. It's all public record. If you want to look all of this up yourself, you need to choose the "Court Records" option, and then enter their names.
There were two individuals involved in the U-Haul gas thefts. They were:
Both seem to have extensive criminal histories involving theft, burglary, conspiracy to commit both, assault, battery, support delinquency, and on and on. It looks like Dennis had some apparent ongoing desperate financial problems relating to fines, penalties, support, etc. This is probably the main reason for doing all of this. They were desperate, and had some bills and fees and fines and support payments to make, and if they didn't make them, maybe they might end up in jail - or something like that. So this was probably all adequate motivation to come up with the idea to do it.
What scares me is the fact that both seem to have a criminal history of violence involving battery and domestic violence. So my original supposition that they could be dangerous was not inaccurate. The clue was in the tunnel-visioned focus on getting the gas no matter what. It was weird; not normal. It seemed "desperate". And apparently, that thinking seems to have been right on the money. So again, I ask: What if a customer had accidentally come upon them while they were in the act of the theft? What would they have done? I want to know if they had weaponry of ANY sort in the vehicle...guns, knives...BATS? Technically, being past convicted felons, they should not be in possession of weaponry at all. But if they were so determined, were they determined in a way that might bring protection of themselves if some innocent person had accidentally come upon them? They're caught now, so it's no longer a worry. But at the time, it was a serious worry.
One Penske-North employee was smart enough to demand that GPD take fingerprints from one of the affected trucks...and they did take fingerprints. So GPD should have some prints on-hand. However, repeated attempts to get ahold of GPD have resulted in...nothing. No communication whatsoever. They appear to be ignoring Penske-North, outright. They caught the criminals, so I guess to them it's over. But there are more charges to apply, yet. They did far more than affect just U-Haul. They need to answer for the other things that they did, too.
The question still remains, though... Where are the fingerprints? Where did they go? WHY is Penske-North being ignored?
UPDATE - 07/30/2010
Contacted Gainesville State Attorney's Office. They were not aware. Said that GPD has to notify them for them to take action. GPD had not notified them.
GPD had been called few days ago by Penske-North owner requesting a callback. GPD never called back. Over past few days, at owner's request, I sent a few feeler emails to GPD requesting contact with Penske-North owner. None of the emails have been responded to. Owner called GPD yet AGAIN, today. GPD had no clue anything had happened at Penske. They were not aware of video. They had no clue that prints had been taken at all. No action had been taken. Penske owner indeed HAD been forgotten about. The shift commander works at night and doesn't get in until 11pm. (This is still no excuse for non-contact. He could have at least emailed, still. He could have contacted other officers who had more contact with the case, if necessary. Things like that.) Officers who actually physically handled the case are not working today, either. They will not be in until Monday. Owner at a loss for words over the whole thing.
Owner even tried to leave a message on the handling officer's voicemail. She got to "...and my telephone number is..." and then the voicemail suddenly beeped and told her that his mailbox was full and so now she's not going to be contacted because she was never able to leave her number.
That's just ridiculous. What a comedy of screw-ups and irresponsibility. Unbelievable. I don't blame her for being angry.
The State Atty's Office can't be notified until GPD gets on the ball with Penske's info. They can't give the SAO the Penske tape because GPD never collected it. So now they have to collect it. But GPD has to officially "notify" them, first. Apparently, GPD never even ACTED on the fingerprints. GPD TOOK them, but apparently never did anything with them. They got lost. When called today, GPD wasn't even aware that they existed. Thus, all said, SAO had no clue there was more involvement, because GPD never told them.
...Everybody still following?
UPDATE - 08/04/2010
Three weeks AFTER the fact now, a GPD officer finally called the Penske-North owner back, this afternoon. He advised that he had questioned the theives and that they had denied any involvement at Penske. He also said that the fingerprints themselves were "inconclusive".
So Penske-North will get no justice because now there's nothing to prove that these guys did it.
Meanwhile, the thefts have miraculaously ceased.
Gainesville Gas Theft Videos
Todd L. Sherman/KB4MHH
Gainesville, Alachua Co., Fla.
Page Created: July 26, 2010.
Last updated: August 4, 2010.
Copyright (C) 2010 by Todd L. Sherman / KB4MHH.
All Rights Reserved.