The victim says the thief set up the ruse before he even got there and would’ve caught it if he was paying attention.
It’s stressful enough pumping gas with credit card skimmers, watching for thieves who’ll reach into your car or, even worse, steal it when you’re not looking, not to mention the ever presence of violence from unhinged individuals.
Now, presumed Bay Area resident and Redditor /u/Subrand0m’s is reminding Bay Area residents (and everyone, really) of thieves looking to steal gas via Gas Pump Nozzle Switch because, unfortunately, he was recently a victim.
Fortunately, /u/Subrand0m was able to take a couple of photos of the thief, caught red-handed, and shared his photos and story to the /r/BayArea subreddit.
Check out his story and photos below.
Gas Scam warning
by u/subrand0m in bayarea
The incident occurred at a Chevron station at the intersection of Homestead Rd. and De Anza in Sunnyvale (but right on the border of Cupertino.)
Exact location on Google Maps is linked here.
Close to I-280, this Chevron was probably strategically chosen to make a quick getaway.
The photos show a man standing next to a silver 2008 Nissan Versa with license plate 6BSG670.
The plates look to match a recently registered and smogged car, as I double-checked its validity on California’s Bar Smog website.
“If anyone knows this fool, he is out here scamming people at the gas station,” his caption reads.
“Swapped the gas nozzle. I did not realize it, je pumped $24.95 into his car before I noticed.”
If you’re still confused how this thief pulled it off, OP explains.
“He moved the hose/nozzle from his side to my side before I arrived. Not thinking, I put in my card and started to pump, he did the same on his side of the pump.“
“Me not thinking anything is strange until the amount went up without me holding the handle. I stopped it once I noticed.”
OP then comments how he confronted the thief because, at first, he thought it was an honest mistake but shortly thereafter realized he was being scammed.
That’s when he took his photos.
OP does say he called police to file a report but, seeing how this was literally less than $25 stolen, you can imagine how urgent Sunnyvale PD will follow up.
While this form of gas theft has probably been around since double-sided gas pumps were first installed, a quick google search shows the earliest stories popping up around 2015.
KTVU reported on just this trend when a rash of gas pump nozzle switch thieves hit the North Bay.
The report warns gas pumpers that, on top of everything else they have to worry about, to make sure to “look up” before pumping to see if your gas pump hose is routed correctly (vertical, not horizontal) and that the lines aren’t crossed.
Pumping gas is also, quite literally, a physical act of sending gallons of fuel through a hose into your tank. Most people should reacquaint themselves, paying special attention next time they pump, of how the nozzle feels as gas flows through the hose.
Keen eared pumpers will not only notice the feel of gas through the hose, they can hear it flowing, too. (It sounds weird, I know, but you get what I mean, right?)
As for OP, he’s presumably chalked it up as a sort of expensive learning experience.
In California, theft under $950 is classified as petty theft (a misdemeanor) punishable by a fine no less than $1,000, up to six months jail, or a combination of both.