Video: Police: Gas thief stole thousands of gallons

updated 10/18/2007 9:52:13 PM ET 2007-10-19T01:52:13

A 70-year-old man has been charged with grand theft after police watched him siphon off more than 900 gallons of gasoline from underground storage tanks at two gas stations, the Polk County authorities said Wednesday.

Deputies witnessed Hobert Gibson steal gasoline from two stations Tuesday, but sheriff officials believe he did this on a daily basis since at least January. The two gas stations he hit that day were about 40 miles from his Winter Haven home, and police believe it was typical for Gibson to visit a few stations per day across a wide geographical area. He is believed to have sold the stolen gasoline, which he stored at his towing company.

Gibson outfitted a stolen box trailer with tanks able to hold 3,250 gallons and with a trap door underneath, police said. He would pull over near the underground storage tank at a gas station, pop the trailer's hood and pretend to fix a problem, as the trap door obscured the view of gas being pumped into the tanks.

Once Gibson even chatted with a Florida Highway Patrol officer while on one of his missions, he told investigators after his arrest, sheriff's spokeswoman Carrie Rodgers said.

"It was broad daylight, nobody knew that's what he was doing," Rodgers said. "He was that good at it."

Gibson was being held without bond at Hernando County jail because he faces theft charges in multiple counties. It was not known if he had an attorney.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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