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Police: Thieves targeting you at the gas station

Posted at 10:35 PM, Nov 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-16 04:50:54-05

Fort Pierce police are issuing a warning and providing safety tips before you fill up your car at the gas station.

Gas stations are known to be a target for thieves. The crooks are watching and waiting to steal your information and valuables, and police say avoid distractions and be aware of your surroundings to lower the risk of becoming a victim.

In the midst of the everyday hustle and bustle, Horatio Hamilton is always on the go.

"I try to do it as quickly as I can, I try to time how long I'm at the pump," said Hamilton, as he was filling up his car Thursday.

To protect his identity and safety while filling up, Hamilton has a strategy.

"When I hop out I make sure there is nothing around me or other people around me, and I try to input my information as quickly and cleanly as possible so no one can watch what I'm doing," Hamilton said.

Fort Pierce Police say it's important to be on guard at the gas station because thefts and similar-type crimes increase ahead of the holidays.

"I do always look at the little card slot because I know that a long time ago that was an issue of people reading your card and taking that," said Michelle Calandro.

Credit card skimmers are on the rise in Florida. In our area, according to new numbers from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 10 more skimmers have been found so far this year in Palm Beach County than last year. Okeechobee County has also seen a small increase.

"If I need to use a credit card I use it inside, I don't use it outside because of that," said Juan Gomez.

Then, there's sliding. Thieves were caught on camera in California last Spring while targeting women at the pump. They pull up next to the woman's vehicle, sneakily slide over, open the victim's vehicle and easily steal a purse or wallet. They're gone in seconds before the victim realizes what happened.

Fort Pierce Police say they've noticed similar crimes like that in the past. Now, they're reminding people to always make sure your doors are locked when filling up, or when going inside the station.

Also, double check the credit card machine to make sure it hasn't been tampered with, and cover the key pad as you enter your personal identification number.