Diesel theft lands Florida men in jail

June 23, 2022

Land Line Staff


A suspected theft turned out to be a bit more elaborate of a scheme after the Florida Highway Patrol conducted a traffic stop at the Pilot Travel Center in Fort Myers, Fla.

Authorities suspected Juan Alfredo Escalona Hidalgo, the driver of the 2016 Freightliner and Raul Torralba, the passenger, had stolen diesel as well as credit cards from another location previously.

An inspection by the Florida Highway Patrol revealed that not only was the semitruck stolen from Miami, but it was equipped with illegal tanks filled with stolen diesel.

A credit card skimmer, stolen credit cards and a laptop computer were also found during the inspection.

Hidalgo, 33 of Bradenton, Fla., and Torralba, 42 of Lehigh Acres, Fla., were arrested and charged with multiple counts of larceny, fraud, unlawful conveyance of fuel, resisting arrest without violence and grand theft auto, said a report from WWSB-TV in Sarasota, Fla.

The Lehigh Acres Citizen reported Hidalgo was released on Tuesday, while Torralba remained in the Lee County Jail, as of Wednesday morning.

A Fort Myers News-Press report said the two men are scheduled for arraignment on July 25.

Copycat crime

Fuel theft appear to be on the rise with reports of incidents not only in Florida, but Utah, Virginia, Nevada and California to name a few.

Some industry officials speculate the rising cost of fuel has created an underground market of sorts, where stolen fuel is being resold at discounted rates, which may be enticing these fuel theft rings across the country. LL

More Land Line coverage of Florida.