Credit card skimmers at Orlando gas pumps prompt owners to change locks

Many gas pumps installed with lock that can be easily opened, police say

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - A record number of skimming devices have been found at Florida gas pumps and investigators say universal keys are one of the main factors contributing to the problem.

"Over the past three to five years, it's become a very big issue," said Detective Robert Pickett with Orlando Police. "Gas pumps right from the manufacturer will have a generic lock on it. So if you acquire a key on one type of gas pump, you can open up several of them. It's not a very unique lock at all." 

Pickett said just about anybody can purchase a key online that will open many gas pumps. 

"Unfortunately, it's very easy to do with the internet," he said. 

A Citgo gas station on Edgewater Drive in Orlando has been hit by skimmers several times, including as recently as three weeks ago. 

Orlando police arrested Jose Gonzalez and Maynelis Gutierrez Meneses in mid-January after detectives said gas was stolen and a credit card skimmer was installed overnight at the station. 

Pickett said that gasstation is one of the first to replace its locks with new custom ones.

"This lock was custom installed by the store owner," Pickett said. 

Pickett hopes more business owners will follow suit. Officials also say drivers should be cautious and protect their credit card information. 

"At this point, the safest way to use a gas pump is to avoid the convenience of using the pump outside and go in and talk to the clerk and hand the card over to the clerk," Pickett said. 

Officials from the Florida Department of Agriculture, the agency that inspects gas pumps across the state, said that putting in nonuniversal keys is part of relatively new security measures. 

So far, they say hundreds of gas stations in the state have made the switch to unique locks.

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