BUCKEYE, Ariz. — Two men, allegedly installing a credit card skimmer in a gas pump, were caught on camera by the gas station’s owner, who is now going very public to get the men caught.
“These criminals are in and out in the matter of a couple of minutes, and it’s very hard to catch them.” Ernest Smith, the owner of Sombrero Shell, said.
Smith discovered two credit card skimmers in his pumps Friday, Dec. 11, 2020.
As he reviewed the security camera footage, he saw two men, pull up to the pump in a pick-up truck, and open the access door of the pump, exposing the electronics.
“Well, I came out to put some receipt paper in and I noticed that my tamper seal was broken, so I checked this pump and that pump and found skimmers on both sides,” Smith said.
He believes he caught the skimmers before any other customer used the pumps and turned the skimmers over to Buckeye Police.
Smith started to research skimmers and was shocked at what he found.
“Doing my research online, I found that these pump skimmers can be found for sale online in mass quantity for less than $60,” he said.
And, like the skimmers that were attached to his pumps, most pump skimmers are now Bluetooth, meaning the would-be crooks can just drive up to the pump to download the information.
“It’s astonishing the items that are available for public purchase, considering that their only use is for criminal activities,” Smith said. “Why are these items available?”
Buckeye police are investigating this case and say to always check the tamper seal on the pump. If it is broken, do not use the pump and alert the store.
Buckeye police offer a few more tips to protect yourself at the pump:
- Pay inside the gas station or store.
- Pay with cash and not credit or debit.
- Use credit, not debit, if possible.
- Regularly review your credit card/debit statements for suspicious transactions.
Smith says the only way to stop thieves like this is through community vigilance:
“My advice to other business owners is to check your pumps on a daily basis. If you find a broken tamper-tape, open up your pump and investigate.”