Authorities are investigating a possible multistate fuel theft ring after two California men were arrested last month in the theft of 160 gallons of diesel fuel from a Clinton convenience store.
One of the men demonstrated — on video — how they had used a black-market device to turn on the pump without paying for the fuel, Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples said.
Eduado Obanesyan and Aram Torossian, both 49, were arrested Oct. 26 after a reserve deputy noticed their fuel trailer lingering at a local convenience store. Such trucks usually fill up at truck stops, the sheriff said.
Deputy Walt Schumacher saw the men fill both tanks on the truck, but when he approached, the pump showed they had only gotten $3 worth of fuel, Peoples said.
Torossian showed the deputy how the man had used a remote control to turn on the pump, the sheriff said. He re-enacted the theft as authorities videotaped him.
Peoples said the remote was designed for maintenance workers, but they can be purchased on the black market.
He said Obanesyan and Torossian had a map identifying fuel stations with pumps that can be operated by the remote.
The men told authorities they had purchased the fuel trailer in Tennessee, Peoples said. They were on their way back to California when they were arrested.
The sheriff said deputies found a large number of blank credit cards in their possession when they were arrested. The case was referred to the U.S. Secret Service, which declined to comment on an ongoing investigation.
Obanesyan and Torossian remain jailed in Custer County in lieu of $250,000 bail. They were charged Monday with grand larceny and possession of burglary tools.