Buda police join program to crack down on gas station credit card skimmers

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BUDA, Texas (KXAN) — Armando Valdez called it “crazy” when he told his Facebook followers about it through a video post in September.

Valdez was visiting the Speedy Stop gas station in Buda when he noticed that the seal on the gas pump access panel was broken.

“About to put my credit card in, I looked at, I was like, ‘That doesn’t look right,” he told KXAN News.

He said he canceled his transaction.

“Just a hunch in my gut, I’m like, ‘You know what? Let’s just open that. Let’s just grab that lock and pull it and see what happens, I don’t know. And it opened and I’m like, ‘Oh, wow! Look at that.’ I never, never thought it would happen to me but it did,” Valdez recounted.

He reported his concern to a gas station employee.

A few days later, Buda Police posted a public service announcement about credit card skimmers to their Facebook page.

The police chief tells KXAN News they did find a credit card skimmer at the Speedy Stop in September.

The agency is now part of a pilot program to increase surveillance and crack down on credit card skimmers at gas stations. The chief says they just launched a four-week extra surveillance program.

The agency received a grant in partnership with the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) and the Texas Department of Agriculture and city council members approved the surveillance project at their Nov. 17 meeting.

According to city documents, skimmer devices are implanted into gas pumps and illegally collect credit and debit card information. Buda PD has responded to 10 cases in the last three years.

According to CAPCOG’s website, the grant program was initially launched a year ago “to address increasing fraudulent transactions at gas pumps.”

A spokesperson says the program started in September of 2019 with law enforcement training but surveillance activities were postponed due to the pandemic.

The group gave priority to “areas with the highest number of reported incidents and to those officers who have completed CAPCOG’s skimmer training. “

“It can happen to anybody– it can happen to me again,” said Valdez.

He says he’s had his card information stolen in the past and that’s how he was able to avoid it, again.

Valdez says even with extra police presence, it’s important for customers to stay aware, too.

“Understand with the holidays, you’ve got to buy gifts, you got to do stuff for your family, people travel, family time’s right now and money is hard to come by right now,” he said.

According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, these are the regional councils awarded grants for distriubution:

  • Alamo Area Council of Governments – $200,000.00
  • Capital Area Council of Governments – $154,980.56
  • East Texas Council of Governments – $200,000.00
  • Houston-Galveston Area Council of Governments – $199,022.00
  • South Plains Council of Governments – $167,404.25

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