PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - Just two weeks after a Livonia truck stop owner lost nearly 1,200 gallons of diesel fuel, owners in Port Allen are realizing they also fell victim.
It's a problem hitting truck stops around the area and in many cases, owners don't even know it's happening. In West Baton Rouge Parish, there have been at least five known cases and nearly $10,000 worth of stolen diesel fuel.
"We own seven truck stops and we found four of them had been tampered with," said Louie Vielee, owner of Super Lucky Louie's and president of TMI Enterprise.
The fuel theft incidents date back to October. There were five separate cases with 2,343 gallons of diesel stolen, but it was two weeks ago Monday, Vielee realized they were thousands of dollars in the red.
"We're talking about $8,900 worth of fuel that was stolen from our facility," said Vielee.
H & R Truck Stop in Port Allen was also hit with nearly 400 gallons of diesel stolen, which is more than $1,300.
According to detectives, thieves pull it off with the help of a pulsator. Every time it clicks, it registers a penny inside the store. The metal lining at the pump is pried off and the thieves attach their own pulsator.
The clerk inside sees the meter running and believes the amount of diesel being pumped is about three gallons a minute. In reality, the pumps are going full blast at 60 gallons a minute. So, they're stealing hundreds of gallons of diesel by only paying for about 20 gallons.
"It makes us so angry 'cause that's our profit they're stealing. It's not our gross revenue," said Vielee.
So to prevent further cases, maintenance worker Joey Hidalgo has taken things into his own hands for every pump.
"We built our own box to surround it out of eighth-inch steel with padlock and a cut-proof box," said Hidalgo.
Authorities did make an arrest in the H & R Truck Stop case, but the accused bonded out the next day. After he bonded out, detectives realized the same trucker may have hit up Vielee's truck stops. Now, they are searching for him and possibly others.