• Last modified 242 days ago (Sept. 27, 2023)


Larceny is unwanted fuel pump additive

Staff writer

If you bought diesel fuel at Fleet Fuels — formerly Epp’s Service — in Hillsboro, police suggest that you check your accounts closely.

Police discovered a skimmer — devices that siphon a debit or credit card’s information from its magnetic strip —hidden inside a pump Saturday.

How long it had been there is anyone’s guess.

“There could be hundreds of people, and they might not draw an association with this,” Police Chief Jessey Hiebert said.

Marion National Bank called police Friday to report that several customers — over several months — had card information stolen and used at fuel stations in Oklahoma.

All of the customers had one thing in common: they had purchased fuel at Epp’s one to two weeks prior to fraudulent charges on their cards.

Police called Epp’s and learned Fleet Fuels had purchased the station Sept. 1.

An officer met with a manager to look for a Bluetooth signal near pumps that could indicate use of a skimmer.

The manager opened pump doors and together with the officer inspected controller interfaces, but they didn’t find anything suspicious.

That changed the next day.

A Hillsboro-area resident called police Saturday to report attempted fraudulent charges on debit and credit cards just that morning. The resident recently had used the cards at the station.

The victim’s bank denied the charges, so there was no financial loss.

An officer returned to the station Saturday and detected a persistent low-power Bluetooth signal traced to a diesel pump on the south side of the station.

Nothing at the pump interfaces looked amiss, but when the manager opened the pump, police found an “in-line” skimmer hidden in wiring.

It was stealing information from only one side of the pump.

Chris Johnson, chief operating officer at Fleet Fuels, based in the Kansas City area, said the station had security cameras, but they weren’t working.

They are now.

Johnson called the discovery unfortunate and said Fleet Fuels was assisting police.

“We will be digging into this for quite some time,” Hiebert said.

The station is “usually pretty busy,” assistant chief Randy Brazil said.

“A lot of semis come in there,” he said. “You usually hear about this in larger areas. We have the same kind of stuff that Wichita has but in a lower capacity.”

Police advise that people make sure to take their receipts, regularly check accounts, and use credit cards instead of debit cards to charge fuel.

The county’s first skimmer was found in 2017 at Johnson’s General Store in Florence. Cards used there were then used for purchases in the Kansas City area.

Last modified Sept. 27, 2023