Po­lice probe ‘pos­si­ble’ link

Diesel fuel in­ci­dents in Bal­ti­more, White Marsh

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Cody Boteler

Bal­ti­more County po­lice said Tues­day they are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the “pos­si­bil­ity” of a con­nec­tion be­tween an ar­rest in­volv­ing the trans­porta­tion of large quan­ti­ties of diesel fuel in White Marsh and the dis­cov­ery a sus­pi­cious van with dozens of gal­lons of al­legedly stolen fuel in down­town Bal­ti­more.

A county of­fi­cer in­ves­ti­gat­ing a re­port of sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity at a Royal Farms stopped the driver of a van who drove off when ap­proached, po­lice said. The man­was taken into cus­tody and an in­ves­ti­ga­tion showed he had used gift cards to pur­chase large quan­ti­ties of diesel fuel, po­lice said.

The diesel was stored in tanks in the back of the van — like those in the van dis­cov­ered ear­lier in the day in Bal­ti­more. The Mary­land Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment ar­rived and took pos­ses­sion of the diesel fuel, es­ti­mat­ing that it was about 660 gal­lons, po­lice spokes­woman Of­fi­cer Jen­nifer Peach said.

The White Marsh in­ci­dent came hours af­ter of­fi­cials in down­town Bal­ti­more evac­u­ated sev­eral build­ings, cor­doned off city blocks and closed ma­jor road­ways for much of the work­day af­ter the dis­cov­ery of a sus­pi­cious van filled with what po­lice say was stolen fuel.

The white van parked in the garage of the T. Rowe Price Group build­ing at 100 E. Pratt St. with two large tanks hid­den in back be­hind tinted win­dows. City of­fi­cials ini­tially re­ported it had 1,000 gal­lons of fuel, but af­ter po­lice de­ter­mined there wasn’t a bomb on board and it was towed out of the garage, only about 80 gal­lons of diesel fuel were re­moved from it.

Another in­ci­dent Tues­day par­tially shut down In­ter­state 695 when a “sus­pi­cious rental truck” was stopped by po­lice of­fi­cers in Tow­son. Peach said there was no evidence of any con­nec­tion be­tween the Tow­son in­ci­dent and the fuel-re­lated ar­rest.

“You have a box truck, and I think all the of­fi­cers, know­ing what hap­pened yes­ter­day in the city and the county, are very much on the look­out for any­thing sim­i­lar, or any­thing that has a sim­i­lar type of sus­pi­cious na­ture,” Peach said.

Po­lice said later Tues­day af­ter­noon that the box truck was stopped ini­tially be­cause the driver was speed­ing, but then ran out of gas on I-695. Po­lice said there was noth­ing found in the truck, and the driver was ar­rested for flee­ing po­lice.

In White Marsh on Mon­day, county po­lice were dis­patched around 3:30 p.m. to the Royal Farms gas sta­tion at the in­ter­sec­tion of Pu­laski High­way and Ebenezer Road af­ter a call for sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity that in­di­cated the driver of a white van was fill­ing two large tanks in­side its cargo area with diesel fuel.

Af­ter an of­fi­cer ap­proached the van, the driver drove off and po­lice pur­sued, stop­ping the ve­hi­cle, Peach said. When the of­fi­cer asked to see the man’s driver’s li­cense, the of­fi­cer dis­cov­ered an “ar­restable traf­fic of­fense” and ar­rested the man. Peach said she could not yet spec­ify what the of­fense was be­cause the man has not been charged.

Dur­ing a fur­ther search of the van, af­ter the man had been taken into cus­tody, po­lice dis­cov­ered 68 Royal Farms gift cards, 15 re­ceipts and one credit card. Some of the gift cards were “re-coded,” Peach said, and fraud­u­lent.

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