Greenville man charged in gas pump thefts

Published 11:25 am Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lucky Baugh, a 34-year-old Greenville man, has been charged with second-degree theft of property for illegally pumping more than $1,700 in gas throughout a multiple-day span from an isolated pumping station with what is believed to be a stolen fuel key.

Fuel keys are used for pumping stations that are independent from gas stations. Obtaining a key usually requires a sign-up process with a given oil company. Once obtained, customers can identify themselves at the site with the key and pump gas to their heart’s content, and receive a bill at the end of the month.

Justin Lovvorn, chief of the Greenville Police Department, explained how this particular use of the pumping station raised several flags.

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“Normally, it’s done for business accounts,” Lovvorn said. “Some individuals can do it if they want to get their gas that way, but it’s mainly set up for larger companies or people who have fleets of vehicles.”

The pumping station is unmanned, though it does have security cameras in place.

The cameras revealed to authorities that Baugh made multiple trips over several days in a variety of different vehicles. In most cases, it was someone else driving the car, and Baugh would fill their vehicles up with gas for them.

“I think at one point he had two cars there at one time, and he just filled both of them up,” Lovvorn said.

Lovvorn added that he believes Baugh was profiting from the situation.

“It’s pretty obvious that he was probably doing that for his own benefit,” he continued.

“And once we identify who was driving the vehicles, they could possible be charged with theft of the gas, as well. It’ll be a case-by-case basis. The charges won’t be exactly the same because they would only be charged for the amount that they put in their car, whereas he’s being charged for the total amount that was taken from the station.”

The only determination left for authorities to make regarding the owners of the vehicles is whether they had reason to believe that they were obtaining the gas illegally.

“The weight of it leans that way anyhow—that they knew they didn’t have authorization to get gas at the pump,” Lovvorn said.

“And the standing rule for anyone that does have a key is that it has to be used for their vehicle. It can be done for someone else.”

Another related investigation concerns the breaking and entering of a vehicle that could point to the origin of the stolen fuel key.

“We have evidence that shows it was possibly taken from an employee for the oil company where this fuel station was located,” Lovvorn said.

“We’re also looking into the fact that a car was broken into, and that Baugh could’ve taken it out of that car because that owner did have a fuel key that would’ve gone to that same pump.

“We’re still getting the records from the oil company, and when they get us all of the facts, then we can determine exactly how he obtained it. But that’s still under investigation.”