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Illinois State Police Issue Warnings On Armed Gas Thieves Targeting Rural Gas & Mini Marts

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Press Release Date: April 20, 2012    || Archived February 11, 2013

Three Suspects Arrested, Clocked Fleeing the Scene at 103 M.P.H.

Gilman, IL – Illinois State Police (ISP) Officials are warning gas stations and mini markets in small, rural towns, to closely monitor vehicles at the pump when filling up with gas.  Most stations require patrons to pay in advance of their purchase, but there are some gas stations that permit patrons to pump before paying. 

Law enforcement was notified by employees of the Fast & Fresh Shell Station after observing a blue Chevrolet Tahoe in their parking lot.  The Tahoe was occupied by a male driver and 3 male passengers who committed a theft of gasoline from their store on April 10. The suspects fled from the scene at a high rate of speed.  

A responding ISP Trooper was on patrol in the vicinity and spotted the vehicle traveling toward him at a high rate of speed.  The Trooper clocked the vehicle’s speed at 103 m.p.h. in a 65 m.p.h. zone.  The Trooper stopped the suspect vehicle and arrested the male driver.  A search of the front seat passenger’s waistband revealed a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun.  Two male passengers were in the backseat of the Tahoe.

ISP Zone 3 investigators were immediately called to the scene to assist with the investigation.  Three of the four occupants were arrested and charged.  The driver, Kirby A. Woodhouse, 20, Crest Hill, IL, was charged with theft and speeding.  The front seat passenger Eric Jerimiah Minefee, 20, Champaign, IL, was charged with Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon and No Valid FOID.  Justin Breon Nichols, 23, of Champaign, IL, a back seat passenger, was arrested on an outstanding Champaign County warrant for Resisting a Peace Officer.  A fourth passenger was released without charges.

“Gasoline theft is not a victimless crime.  The price for this crime is paid for at the pump by every motorist,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau.  “We want to remind drivers and gas station vendors to be aware of their surroundings and report suspicious activity.”

Officials are taking this opportunity to warn area gas stations to take the necessary safety precautions and to monitor vehicles and license plates of those paying for gasoline after filling up at the pump.

District 21 Commander acknowledged that there have been a few local gas stations hit by thieves taking advantage of small mini mart businesses.  “Not paying for gas is an easy crime of opportunity in these small, rural towns, but these offenders will eventually get caught and will be prosecuted,” said Captain Bridget Bertrand.

Theft of gasoline is a Class A misdemeanor, and if convicted, carries up to a $1000 fine, up to a year in jail, and a driver’s license suspension.

All criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Kirby A. Woodhouse
Kirby A. Woodhouse
Eric Jerimiah Minefee
Eric Jerimiah Minefee
Justin Breon Nichols
Justin Breon Nichols

 

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