Thief Stole Over $5000 of Fuel From Fellow Truck Driversby Jana Ritter - Published: 4/01/2016
Truck drivers have enough to worry about with the increasingly sophisticated cargo thieves stealing freight, but stealing diesel fuel from fellow truck drivers puts this criminal on a whole other level of low. On Wednesday morning, 51-year-old Donald L. Struble, a truck driver from Bangor, Michigan was arrested for doing just that (numerous times since last July) and is now facing criminal charges.
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According to Lt. Curt Apperson of the Champaign County sheriff's office, a north Champaign truck repair business (CIT Trucks) had been filing reports about diesel fuel theft occurring at their lot since last July. The reports indicated that several of their customers had complained that their rigs were being returned to them with less diesel fuel than when they came in for repair. "CIT set up a camera system that automatically notified electronically when people arrived on their lot. We captured images of Struble stealing diesel from semis that were being worked on and some that were ready for pickup from their business," Apperson says. Apperson continues that CIT eventually obtained video footage showing Struble on the lot, allegedly stealing the fuel. They were able to discern from the video that he was using an electric pump to siphon diesel fuel from trucks on the lot into his own rig, Apperson explains. It was enough for law enforcement to act and patrol deputies were alerted to be on the lookout for Struble. Finally at about 2:20 a.m. Wednesday morning, a deputy spotted Struble on the lot and he appeared to be setting up for another diesel theft with his rig parked very close to another.
The deputy moved in and confronted the startled man. "He had no explanation for being on the lot," Apperson says. He was arrested and taken into custody, where detectives questioned him about the previous thefts. Apperson says that Struble’s job had him routinely delivering pickles from Michigan to St. Louis and his route allowed him to become familiar with the truck repair business, which is close to the Road Ranger truck stop just off I-57. Sure enough, Struble ended up confessing that he had stolen diesel at least 14 times from the repair lot. Apperson says that the video surveillance supports many of the thefts he admitted to and given those admissions, detectives believe Struble may have stolen as much as $5,000 worth of fuel from other trucks between mid-July and Wednesday morning. He was charged with a Class 3 felony theft between $500 and $10,000 carrying penalties upon conviction ranging from probation to two to five years in prison.