CITY OF KATY (Covering Katy News)—Katy Police have charged two Houston residents with felony credit/debit card abuse in connection with a diesel fuel theft last week.
Jorge Luis Castillo Barrera, 34, and Norma Hernandez, 34, have been charged.
At about 7:08 p.m. last Thursday, officers observed a gray Chevrolet pickup truck at the ConocoPhillips gas station, 5249 Franz Rd. Police said Barrera was seen pumping diesel fuel into an auxiliary fuel tank located in the open bed of the pickup truck.
Police said that due to the increasing number in diesel fuel thefts in the Katy area, officers have been trained to look for suspicious behavior associated with these types of theft cases.
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Officers made contact with Barrera and learned he had used a re-encoded gift card to purchase/steal the diesel fuel. Officers located 34 re-encoded gift cards during the inventory search of the vehicle. The cards were concealed in various locations throughout the vehicle, including inside a cigarette box that was tied to the battery in the engine compartment.
Police said Hernandez was also found to have re-encoded cards. Both suspects were then taken into custody.
Police said personal information located on the re-encoded gift cards is often obtained from card skimmers placed on fuel pumps throughout the Katy area. Suspects extract the information and re-encode it on gift cards. The cards are then sold on the street for profit. Unsuspecting victims many times are unaware that their personal information has been compromised.
Police urge citizens to check their bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized charges and report such incidents to the police. Police also urge citizens to run periodic credit reports on themselves as a way of protecting themselves from identity theft.