Crimetracker - New Crime Trend Lets Thieves Fuel Up For Free

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A new nationwide crime trend is now hitting the streets of Wichita. Thieves are skipping the mall and taking stolen credit cards straight to the gas pump. They're also inviting some friends along for the ride.

The manager of Cenex at the corner of 13th Street and Woodlawn Street says about a month ago he found the contents of a purse dumped out in the garbage can at the station. Then things got really strange. He noticed several people had used the same credit card to fuel up their vehicles.

Police say the thief broke into a car, stole a credit card and then called his friends. They all met up at the Cenex station and filled up their tanks, charging a thousand dollars to the stolen card. Wichita police Lt. Mike Hennessey says thieves are getting smart to improving credit card security.

"Now, the trend is to use that credit card as fast as possible before it's shut down," said Hennessey

Hennessy says smash-and-grab burglaries and stolen credit cards are nothing new, but criminals now know the victim can cancel their card instantly online. He says the crooks are now heading straight to the gas station to get what they can as quickly as possible.

"One of the motivations is not only just being a criminal, but gas prices are high and they will continue to go up. We'll see this trend where credit cards are used at gas stations right away," he said.

Since the first of the year, the Wichita has seen almost 1,800 larcenies in which purses or wallets have been stolen. Of those, 1,500 of the stolen cards have been used to buy gas.

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