New gas pump device penalties to go into effect. Here’s when

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture says ‘great reporting’ by WKMG-TV led to new legislation

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s new retail fuel theft legislation will go into effect on July 1, making the use of so-called pulsar price manipulators a second- or third-degree felony.

Wilton Simpson, head of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and former state Senate president, credited “great reporting” by WKMG-TV for the new law that was unanimously approved by Tallahassee lawmakers in the 2023 legislative session.

“We really appreciate the work you did here to bring this to our attention,” Simpson told News 6. “This is going to save people that buy gas in the state of Florida tens of millions of dollars annually.”

FDACS inspects retail gas stations across Florida “ensuring that fuel dispensers are working safely and properly.”

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Lt. Corey Kissinger, an FDACS criminal investigator, was assigned to write the original version of the bill. Kissinger told News 6 the new legislation “will be huge” for law enforcement agencies across the state.

“From my original draft to where it is today, the language would address all devices,” he said. “In my experience, they (criminals) will keep doing it until they go to prison.”

Under the new legislation, prison is now part of the new law with penalties ranging from five to 10 years for anyone using the devices to alter prices at the pump.

The law in part finds that a person commits a third-degree felony when the person Intentionally breaches, causes to be breached, or gains access without authorization to any internal portion of a retail fuel dispenser.

A second-degree felony comes into play when the person tampers with, manipulates, removes, replaces or interrupts any mechanical device located within a retail fuel dispenser with the intent to steal fuel.

Kissinger is part of a state and federal task force that has been arresting diesel fuel thieves operating In Jacksonville, Orlando and Kissimmee.

Agents with the U.S. Secret Service in Orlando have been a major part of the fight to stop the fuel thieves.

Simpson told News 6 law enforcement agencies are “already ramping up” to launch a sweeping offensive to intercept fuel gangs operating across the state.

“This will be a coordinated effort and I believe it will bear a lot of fruit,” Simpson said. “We now have the tools and it’s thanks to you and a lot of great reporting that you’ve done that we’re in this position.”

Simpson said Kissinger’s detailed approach “was very helpful” to FDACS’ success in getting the measure passed and ultimately signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.