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WHO SWIPED 6,000 GALLONS OF GAS?

Police are investigating the theft of 6,000 gallons of fuel from the BP gas station at 1996 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd.

The theft, which occurred late Saturday, resulted in the loss of gasoline valued at about $14,000.

Police responded to the gas station just after 2 a.m. Sunday when a call came in about a strong smell of gasoline at the location. When police arrived, they found a pool of gasoline on the pavement and the tops of the underground storage tanks removed, authorities said.

The time of the theft was determined to be between 11:12 p.m. and 11:35 p.m. Saturday. The gas station was closed at the time the gas was taken.

Responding to questions by e-mail, Jim Smith, president of the Florida Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, said such fuel heists do happen, but not often.

More than likely, the culprit or culprits plan to sell the gas below market value to a retailer, Smith said. Most retailers wouldn't think of buying hot gas, but there are those looking to make an illicit buck, he said.

"My guess is the thief already had a customer before he stole the gasoline," Smith wrote.

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FAST FACTS

Help police

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call the Clearwater Police Department Tip Line at (727) 562-4486. You can also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477) or submitting a tip online at www.crimestoppersofpinellas.org.

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