Gas pump skimming on the rise in Southwest Florida

Author: carolyn brewster
Published: Updated:

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla.- Law enforcement says gas pump skimming is on the rise in Southwest Florida. Deputies were out checking local gas stations as the holiday traffic began.

There were no skimmers found Wednesday but authorities are telling travelers to be cautious; over 40 pumps have been tampered with in the last few months in the Lee County area.

“It worries me even being here around town. It bothers me,” said Frieda Sarnowski.

Sarnowski is driving up to North Florida for Thanksgiving with her family but she’s worried about skimmers and the hidden threat that could be inside the gas pump, stealing her money.

“Oh I would be furious. I would be furious. I wouldn’t know where to start,” she said.

Thieves place the skimmer inside the pump when no one’s looking–then wait for you to swipe your card. Deputies tell us many of the skimmers actually have Bluetooth capabilities, making it possible for criminals to access your information while sitting in their car.

“Recently we downloaded one and took the data off of it and it had 685 victim’s information on just one device,” said Detective Kevin Watkins with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Watkins says these skimmers have been on the rise the past few months and LCSO is getting the companies involved.

While there’s no way to know if a pump has been tampered with, deputies say that newer gas stations are now becoming better equipped with new technology.

“We physically walk the pumps two to three times a day to ensure that there are no devices on the pumps but more importantly we partnered with a company that has a security device similar to what you may have in your home. If a pump is ever tampered with it sounds an alarm in our office and we’re able to go investigate to see what’s happened to the pump,” said Tim Wipf, manager of the Love’s Truck Stop in North Fort Myers.

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