Rigged System Results In Huge Fuel Theft

Seattle police say someone installed a phony meter on a fuel-delivery system at a BP distribution center on Harbor Island in Seattle, resulting in the theft of 350,000 gallons of diesel fuel over nearly a year, the Seattle Times reported.

A police report said that a manager at the Harbor Island terminal in Seattle reported earlier this month that the thefts had been discovered and were likely tied to similar losses reported at a BP distribution center in Long Beach, Calif., the newspaper reported.

Police said the terminal manager’s staff uncovered a pattern of fuel losses and subsequently discovered that a fake meter had been installed in the facility’s pump-delivery system.

The manager reported to the police that the thief had apparently unscrewed a protective cap on the pump system, accessed the legitimate meter, replaced it with a phony meter and replaced the cap, the newspaper said.

Officials with BP PLC said about 350,000 gallons, valued at about $1 million, were stolen from the Seattle distribution center.

Truck drivers who were not aware of the phony meter would load fuel using the legitimate meter while the thief would use the legitimate meter for about 5 seconds, then wait for 30 seconds to activate the phony meter, the terminal manager told police. As a result, the thefts went undetected for months.

The thefts stopped when the phony meter was discovered and replaced Dec. 5, according to police.

The newspaper reported that the theft wasn’t the first, or largest, from a Harbor Island fuel-distribution center.

In March 2007 an Olympia man was sentenced to almost four years in prison for stealing more than 2.9 million gallons of gas from a Harbor Island fuel depot between 1999 and 2004. The man was a supervisor at the fuel depot, and he knew a code that allowed him and other employees to pump fuel from the depot without a record, the newspaper reported.

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