Theft ring allegedly steals one million gallons of fuel

| 12/8/2005

A former employee of a fuel depot near Seattle is believed to have stolen more than a million gallons of fuel, according to The Seattle Times.

The employee, who has not been formally charged, is under investigation by agents from the Internal Revenue Service.

The Times reported that the IRS recently obtained a warrant and seized items from the man’s home as part of an ongoing investigation into the theft of about $3 million worth of fuel from the depot, which is owned by Texas-based Kinder Morgan Energy Partners.

The employee, along with five other people, is suspected of using his knowledge of a special pump code and his connections with people still employed by the company to steal the fuel, sell it to gas stations in Washington and launder the money through bank accounts.

The thefts occurred from 1999 to 2004, according to The Times, and investigators believe that about 1.14 million gallons of fuel worth at least $2.9 million was stolen during that time.

Kinder Morgan reported the thefts to police in 2004 after noticing a correlation between the production of certain error reports and visits to the pump by a certain driver.

The Times reported that the error report in question is generated when a code is entered and the pumps are placed in maintenance mode. In that mode, any amount of fuel can be dispensed without being recorded by the inventory-control system.

Investigators say they believe the former employee gave his old code to a driver friend, who then stole the fuel.