BUSTED: CPD catches suspects putting skimmers on gas pumps
Chattanooga Police have caught two suspects red-handed attaching skimming devices to a local gas station pump.
UPDATE: Chattanooga police ended a multi-state crime ring involving thieves skimming gas pumps. Two men are in custody along with more devices and two laptops after an officer caught the suspects red-handed.
Police say this type of crime is one of the most difficult to solve.
Police say a man in a U-Haul truck, parked close to the gas pump, had his hand inside the access door then he and another suspect took off.
The officer made a traffic stop and found the two men with the pump's key. A computer skimmer wire was also found tossed out into the parking lot.
"The odds of this kind of capture are right up there with a meteor strike they had to be caught in the act," said Lt. Craig Joel. "This was a very high tech crime very difficult to pursue, while they have the device there all they have to do is pull up next to it and they can wireless transmit that information. The odds of catching it are just astronomical."
Rafael De Los Rios Jr. and Yoandy Cendeo Pena are both charged with vandalism, malicious mischief and tampering with evidence.
De Los Rios faces an additional charge for possession of cocaine, both men are from Florida.
"This was apart of an inner state ring that has been going around and as a matter of fact it was the same two people that the secret service have been searching for over the last few weeks with national bulletin," said Lt. Joel.
Damage to pump number 1 is estimated to be about $10,000 dollars. Pump number 3 was tampered with as well. This is the second time skimmers have hit the Mapco of of Hwy 158. Others in Chattanooga and the Hixson area have been hit too.
"People may not know they are victimized yet," said Lt. Joel.
What makes this high-tech theft different than other skimming schemes, the device is placed inside the pump's motherboard and it's impossible to see.
Thieves use blue tooth technology to snatch your debit card and pin numbers in just seconds.
"Having done this in broad daylight, it shows the confidence they have knowing that the likelihood of being caught is very minimal and also shows the volume that they were working this in," said Lt. Joel.
Police say there could be more suspects or more skimming devices out there so beware.
"There's no way to tell I mean really the best way obviously now is going to be to pay with cash," said one resident.
If your bank statements don't add up or you believe you might be a skimming victim call Chattanooga police. Officers say it's best to use credit or pay with cash.
MAPCO released this statement late Wednesday:
"MAPCO would like to thank the hard work of our local law enforcement for the successful apprehension of the suspects related to a recent security breach involving skimmers. At MAPCO we take our guests' privacy seriously and constantly strive to protect it. Our daily inspections of our pumps and us of security labels are a few of the steps we mandate at all of our locations. These security measures helped us immediately find this breach and report the indictment to local law enforcement. For guests who are concerned about this matter, we encourage them to call their bank." -MAPCO spokesperson.
PREVIOUS STORY: Chattanooga Police have caught two suspects red-handed attaching skimming devices to a local gas station pump.
Police say they caught the suspects at the Mapco at 153 and Gadd Road. Officials say that the suspects are believed to be a part of a multi-state organized crime ring.
READ MORE | CPD warns public of skimmer at the gas pump
Officers were able to recover two laptops and more skimming devices during the arrest. CPD says the Secret Service is now involved as a result of the arrest.
CPD will provide a press briefing on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Stay with us as this story develops.