Gas Thieves Go High-Tech

Two gas stations in St. Louis, Mo., lost up to $10,000 when thieves worked out a way to get free gas by hacking into electronically controlled pumps, The Register reports.

The story states that the thieves reprogrammed internal keypads to dispense free gas after opening up the actual pumps; subsequent customers then took advantage of the ruse to avoid paying as well.

"(The thieves) have a key to the pump, and then after they open up the pump they go in and they reprogram the pump, so they can have free gas," Kevin Tippit, manager of the Phillips 66 gas station, told KSDK News Channel 5.

The Register mentioned that it would be fairly obvious to attendants when someone tampers with internal keypads, but according to Tippit, it bypasses the system.

"It goes beyond the register and is drawing directly off the pumps," he said.

Gas station employees don’t have access to the codes to the interior keypads, the story states, and since the thefts, Mobil Food Mart contacted the supplier, who removed the keypads from the pumps.

Employees are also keeping a closer eye on footage from surveillance cameras.

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By Paul Kerstein

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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