NewsLocal News


Rising gas prices leading to thefts

Posted at 10:59 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 22:59:24-04

FORT MYERS, FL — Some of the most important businesses in our community can also be some of the noisiest.

Whether they're hauling dirt for a road, building fire equipment or helping to compost stuff.

But one of the businesses in Southwest Florida's industrial sector, MW Horticulture, says there's a silent crime that's plaguing them.

"It ended up to be almost $600 of fuel stolen. So, we think it's almost 300 gallons," said MW Horticulture owner, Denise Houghtaling.

They say thieves are hitting the fuel tanks on their heavy equipment.

About ten days ago, they took those 300 gallons, and then just a few days ago, someone stole more.

"One of our machines was out on a job site in cape coral, just a little bobcat and he had filled up a machine up and when the operator went the next morning, same thing, the fuel was missing out of the machine it was on empty," she said.

They say they know it was a theft because about a month ago, because their employees started using an app to monitor fuel levels and mileage and because they say they caught the latest suspect on camera.

"Well this time we got a fingerprint so we'll see, we hope to prosecute," she said.

Over the last two years, Houghtaling estimates that they've lost about $5,000 in fuel. To help protect it they've invested in locks for their gas tanks and they encourage other businesses to watch for this pattern to help beat thieves to the punch.

"But it seems like what we saw is when the price of the fuel started going up is when it really started to happen," she said.