Bill would upgrade charge of a device used for fuel theft

Bill would upgrade charge of a device used for fuel theft

pulsar manipulation device, Kern, Senate, House, gas pumps, theft
A bill that would upgrade the charge for those who use a pulsar manipulation device to steal from a gas pump is advancing in the legislature. (Photo by Pexels)

A bill that would upgrade the charge on the use of a pulsar manipulation device in a gas pump is advancing in the legislature. 

The charge of using, manufacturing, possessing or supplying a device would be upgraded to a class 3 felony with a presumed sentence of three and a half years, as well as a fine of $150,000, under the bill that passed in the House Majority and House Minority caucuses earlier this month after passing in the Senate late last month. Sen. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, sponsored the bill and said it was precautionary. 

“I’m not sure there’s a problem in Arizona at this time, but there seems to be a problem in other states, and I thought it’d be a good idea to go ahead and run the bill and kind of nip it in the bud before it becomes a problem,” Kern said. 

Kern, Republicans, pulsar manipulation devices, gas stations, Senate, House
Sen. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale

Pulsar manipulation devices work by disabling the pulsar of a gas pump, which measures the gallons that flow out automatically. This prevents the pump from sending the amount of gas being pumped to the retailer. 

Tucson Police Department said in an email that cases “seem to be rare” and their crime units have not seen these cases “in some time.” Phoenix Police Department provided one case of a device being used. However, there have been some cases in other states, including Florida.  

“I don’t think it’s a huge problem in Arizona, but it is an issue out there and, for whatever reason, people have these devices and they’re easily put on gas tanks from my understanding they’re able to manipulate the flow of the gas and the dollar amount attached to it,” Kern said. “And I thought, why not?” 

Amanda Gray, executive director of Arizona Petroleum Marketing Association, represents convenience stores, small gas stations, fuel distributors, and other related industries. She said the devices can be discovered by the retailers themselves after the theft occurs and sometimes are not followed with criminal arrests. Gray said organized criminal groups have stolen “hundreds of thousands” of gallons of fuel for resale using these devices in the past year. 

She said pulsar manipulation devices are also dangerous for small gas stations. 

“The theft of thousands of gallons of fuel could put them out of business,” Gray said in an email. 

However, legislative and policy co-chair at Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice Nathan Wade called the bill “unnecessary,” and said there are already statutes and laws regarding theft in general.  

“We’ve got enough pressing issues that we need to be out looking for issues that have been proven to be a problem here in Arizona,” Wade said. “If they do prove to be a problem they will be prosecuted. And there is already an outlet and method to do that within our criminal justice system.” 

He said this bill would set a precedent for other industries to push for bills that apply to their specific product. He said it would “muddy” criminal law to make it product-specific and “special interest driven.”