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Officials: Thousands of gallons of diesel being stolen, sold on the black market

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GARVIN COUNTY, Okla. - Gas prices are dropping but that doesn't mean that criminals are slowing down.

Officials say thieves are now targeting commercial and government sites, and even farmland.

Law enforcement officials say they are seeing an increase in this type of crime because of the access to tanks and a high demand for diesel on the black market.

“They do this a couple of times in one night and they easily have a couple hundred dollars’ worth that they can go sell on the black market for 50 cents a gallon, whatever,” says Sheriff Larry Rhodes, with the Garvin County Sheriff's Office.

Sometimes those sales happen at truck stops, or the alleged crooks look to sell the stolen fuel to local farmers.

“Diesel can go in a variety of equipment; farming and ranching, generators, so there is a demand for it,” he said.

In Garvin County, they've lost more than 2,000 gallons to theft.

“We are seeing tractors, road graders, dozers being hit. They have larger tanks.”

The most recent theft was from a piece of equipment owned by the Department of Transportation.  Authorities say almost 200 gallons was stolen in that case.

There are very few leads for a crime Sheriff Rhodes says is all too easy.

He says crooks have vehicles outfitted with tanks to hold the fuel.

“We found they have a trailer with a 200 to 300 gallon tank. We've seen it where they put these tanks inside of a horse trailer to conceal the tanks."

And that’s why he says businesses are starting to take precautions, like adding cameras to their property and keeping equipment tanks empty on weekends.

“I just ask that maybe persons who are approached with the opportunity to buy cheap gas;  if it don’t look right, there may be something up to that,” he said.

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