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Gas station criminals becoming more brazen, businesses and law enforcement taking action

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 23, 2024
  • Video shows local gas stations who've been hit by criminals, from stealing an iconic Sinclair Dino statue to skimming card readers.
  • Raji Brar said she's seen criminals become more brazen, hitting gas stations in broad daylight. She said her family has worked diligently with local law enforcement and the District Attorney's office to help combat these crimes.

Driving down White Lane, you may pass by the Sinclair gas station and wonder “where’s the Dino?” Theft and burglary at local businesses is increasing and our gas stations aren’t immune, leaving you as a customer, vulnerable to these crimes.

“It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen," said Raji Brar, who's family has owned gas stations and businesses across town since she was little.

Brar said her family now owns 10 gas stations across Bakersfield and in one way or another, nearly all have been hit by criminals.

"Whether it's taking the card readers, whether they're pulling up with big U-Haul trucks and taking gas straight out the tanks, they're also putting in devices that unlock the gas tanks and stealing gas in that capacity," she said.

On February 16, law enforcement arrested 45-year-old Dustin Hering and recovered over $100,000 worth of stolen equipment from his home in Oildale, including gas pumps, card readers, and even a Sinclair Dino.

Stolen items from gas stations found at home in Oildale
Stolen items from gas stations found at home in Oildale

Sam Solanki, the owner of the White Lane Sinclair station, was hopeful the recovered Dino was their but it's still unknown. While a missing eight-foot statue is hard to miss, other crimes happening at gas stations are much harder to catch and can even impact you.

"It's such a violation when it comes to identity theft and credit card fraud, it's a violation against so many people," said Brar. "I mean sure we'll replace our card readers, we'll replace the face of the gas pumps but for individuals who are dealing with the lasting effects of credit card fraud, it's devastating."

Brar said she's seen criminals become more brazen, hitting gas stations in broad daylight. She said her family has worked diligently with local law enforcement and the District Attorney's office to help combat these crimes.

"Everything you can imagine, from putting locks on the gas pumps to having private security at night. We're doing what we can, however, that's not possible for everybody," she said.

When it comes to your safety at the pump there are some things you can do to protect yourself, including: paying with cash, paying inside instead of at the pump, and checking the terminal ahead of time for signs of tampering.

If you’ve been a victim of gas pump theft, you’re encouraged to call the DA’s office at (661) 868-2340.


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