MILLERSVILLE, Md. -
It sure seemed like easy pickings---pulling up behind a remote cellular phone tower, cutting the fence and siphoning off hundreds of gallons of diesel worth about four bucks per gallon.
But acting on a tip, police say they caught two men in the act driving away from the crime scene in a truck pulling a trailer full of the stolen fuel behind it.
"Daniel Padgett and Robert Murphy have not only victimized our business community partners. They've victimized all consumers in Anne Arundel County, Maryland," said Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis.
This year, alone, Anne Arundel County has witnessed an explosion in this type of crime with 10,000 gallons stolen from various businesses, and investigators are still trying to determine what the men were doing with their haul.
"Of course any time there's diesel fuel stolen, there are always concerns of it being mixed with other products to make an IED,” said Capt. Herbert Hasenpusch, “In this case, there's no evidence to suggest that. We believe it was probably being sold at a discounted rate."
The thefts also can impact cell phone customers who absorb the costs of the lost fuel and could suffer service disruptions if power is lost and the backup generators can't operate.
A bonus in this latest bust---a table full of weapons, including a Tec-9 assault pistol with its serial number scratched off.
Police discovered them in Murphy's Pasadena home and as a former convicted felon, he was prohibited from owning firearms.
"We don't like bad guys to possess... especially to illegally possess firearms, and a firearm with an obliterated serial number tells law enforcement that the person that's in possession of that firearm with an obliterated serial number may be up to no good," said Davis.
Robert Murphy is being held in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center with his bail set at $50,000 and Daniel Padgett has already met a lesser bail to gain his release.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.