Posted 4:45pm, 1/9/12 – I just spoke with Edgar Artenyan, co-owner of the Valero Station that SMPD reported in a press release earlier today was vandalized on Dec. 27th and that shortly thereafter, reports of credit card fraud started coming in. Edgar told me that as soon as they were aware that there may have been some compromise of the machine, they contacted SMPD and the secret service, and that they are cooperating fully with investigators to assist in catching the people who did this.
According to Edgar, Pump No. 5 (only) was compromised. On the morning of Dec. 27th at about 6:30am, his employees reported to work and noticed that seals on the pump, which had been intact at closing on the 26th, were broken, and that the “door” of the pump was broken and the pump nozzle damaged. Each pump has three seals (numbered stickers) that bridge the gap where the openings occur on the “door” that opens where the machines are located. Each time the printer paper has to be changed, the seals are changed. According to Edgar’s partner, Gary Taschyan, the seals are not difficult to get and could be easily obtained by criminals, including seals with the same number sequence, so that it could appear as though the seal had not been broken.
SMPD asked Artenyan if the station had security cameras, and they do. Artenyan showed me multiple cameras aimed at the pumps. However, the cameras are located outside the building, and the thief (or thieves) had aimed the camera to the ground prior to going to the pump. Edgar told me that they are looking at new cameras which would a) be located inside the building and b) have sensors attached to the pump “doors” so that if it was opened, an alarm would signal SMPD immediately. “We are doing everything we can to keep our neighborhood and our customers safe,” said Edgar.
According to Tashchyan, as the skimmer was being removed, the perpetrators were not being as careful (as they were when placing the skimmer) to make sure there was no evidence, and in addition to the broken seals, pieces of plastic were found outside the machine. Valero contacted their third party maintenance provider, who sent a technician that determined that a new, smaller type of skimmer, had been placed in the machine and then removed.
Valero employees have been encouraging their customers that pay with credit cards to request new cards from the issuer, whether they used pump no. 5 or any pump, just to be on the safe side.