HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested two suspects in connection to the theft of diesel fuel.
On October 28th and 29th, 2022, two suspects driving a white pick-up truck paid for nearly 20 gallons of diesel fuel, but it was later determined that approximately 520 gallons were stolen from the gas station.
On November 7th and 8th, 2022, suspects driving the same white truck made four separate transactions between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. On each occasion where they visited the gas station, the suspects would park near one pump for approximately 35 to 45 minutes.
The transactions showed the suspects paid for approximately 65 gallons of diesel, but the tank volume reader showed over 1,000 gallons of diesel removed from the tank. Through investigative means, detectives were able to develop a lead on a white pick-up truck registered to 34-year-old Jorge Luis Puerto Ruiz.
Deputies observed another truck with a fraudulent tag similar to Ruiz’s truck driven by 27-year-old David Dopico-Avila. Deputies followed Dopico-Avila and Ruiz to a Marathon gas station on Fletcher Avenue.
After speaking with the store clerk, detectives learned the pump, based on the computer was moving slowly indicating that a “pulsator” or manipulation device was possibly illegally installed. Deputies contacted the suspects and noted after approximately five minutes of a fully engaged pump, the bill was only $11.00.
Deputies took both suspects into custody and observed both vehicles had been modified with additional illegal tanks holding extremely large amounts of diesel fuel. The suspects were in possession of the gas station’s pump key and deputies opened it to discover a pulsator manipulation device.
“Hard-working people are suffering at the hands of these thieves whenever incidents like this occur,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “These suspects managed to steal thousands of dollars worth of fuel within the last month. Our detectives worked swiftly to stop what could’ve resulted in an even greater financial loss for the Owners of the gas station. Consumers who suspect that a gas pump has been tampered with should immediately contact the gas station manager and file a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services online or by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA”.
Jorge Ruiz and David Dopico-Avila were charged with Unlawful Conveyance of Fuel and Fraudulently Obtaining Motor or Diesel Fuel.