Police explain how thieves stole 4,200 gallons of diesel fuel from gas station

WSMV's Danielle Jackson reports about the large-scale gas theft.
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 10:20 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2022 at 11:01 AM CST
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HENDERSONVILLE (WSMV) — A man is accused of stealing more than 4,000 gallons of diesel from a gas station in Hendersonville on East Main Street.

Javier Rodriguez-Denis, 25, is seen on dash camera video taken into custody by Hendersonville Police. They’ve been investigating his connection to stealing 4,200 gallons of diesel valued at approximately $20,000. Investigators say Rodriguez-Denis was seen on surveillance video making several trips to the gas station.

Thornton’s gas station told police they became aware of the theft after conducting an audit and noticed the amount of diesel taken didn’t match the dollar amount.

Hendersonville Detective Thomas Holman said the suspects were able to manipulate the pump using a device found on the bed of his truck.

“They broke open the pump, and then they placed the device on the pump,” Holman said. “The device is a pulsar device. The device measures the flow rate of fuel coming from the pump like a passenger vehicle or truck.”

Holman credits the city’s license plates reader technology and surveillance video for helping them track down the alleged thief.

“The truck that the suspect used was very recognizable. It was a very specific truck, and it had specific markings on it,” Holman said. “We were able to locate that truck and get its license plate based on our LPR camera footage, which allowed us to put an alert back in.”

Holman said the pump was rigged in a way that made it difficult for the store to detect.

“It looks like they pumped out ten gallons when actually they pumped out several hundred at a time,” he said. “They had to make multiple attempts and they keep coming back to this pump that this device had been attached to.”

Holman explained how, normally, the suspects’ goal would be to resell the diesel.

“So, these thieves are stealing the diesel outright from the retailers. They’re then transferring it to an unknown location where they have several hundreds to thousands of gallons potentially,” Holman said. “We believe they are then transporting that to somebody unscrupulous who has a trucking company or a large-scale construction company.”

The suspect is in jail facing theft and vandalism charges.

Police say this is still an open and ongoing investigation because they believe there are other suspects connected to this crime.