News Story


Gas Station Skimmer Sweep
8/8/2017 3:00:00 PM


Nature of Incident:

Gas Station Skimmer Sweep


Thousand Oaks

Date & Time:

August 1, 2017 / 10:00 AM

Unit Responsible:

Thousand Oaks Financial Crimes Unit


Identity theft is a national problem that is significantly affecting citizens in Ventura County.  One way thieves are obtaining victim's credit and debit card information is through the use of illegal card skimming devices that are surreptitiously placed in fuel pumps.  When an unsuspecting customer swipes their debit or credit card into the fuel pump pay station, the illegal devices capture the card and pin information.  The thieves then use this stolen information to commit identity theft and other fraud related crimes.  Loses from a single illegal skimming device on a fuel pump usually averages between $50,000 and $100,000.

In an effort to crack down on credit card skimming, Thousand Oaks Police detectives assigned to the Financial Crimes Unit conducted an inspection for skimming devices at gas stations throughout the city of Thousand Oaks. The detectives completed internal and external checks of 272 gas pumps at 29 gas stations, which resulted in no devices being located.

The goal of these random inspections is not only to locate skimmers, but also educate gas station employees on what devices are currently being used and how to best protect their customers. Credit card compromises are responsible for losses in the billions of dollars annually and skimming devices are responsible for a majority of these losses. 

Generally, skimmers work in conjunction with a miniature camera which records a person typing in a personal identification number (PIN). Some skimmers may also use a secondary keypad over top of the actual keypad. The secondary keypad captures your PIN number and records it.

The Thousand Oaks Police Department recommends the following safety tips.

  • Pay in cash inside the store to ensure credit card information stays safe.
  • Check to make sure the gas pump dispenser cabinet is closed and has not been tampered with.
  • If the gas station uses security stickers to seal the pump doors, be suspicious if the seal is broken or the word "void" appears.  .
  • Inspect the card reader and area around the key pad
  • Cover you hand when entering your PIN
  • Use a gas pump closer to the front of the store.
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and the money is not immediately deducted from your account.
  • If using a debit card, choose to run it as a credit card instead of entering a PIN number.
  • Monitor bank accounts regularly and place alerts on your credit card to notify you of charges
  • Consider using Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay
  • If a card reader does not look like it matches the machine's color and style, look at other nearby gas pumps to see if they match the one you are using.
  • If your card sticks when you insert it or does not feel quite right, cancel the transaction and pay inside.
  • Consumers who suspect their credit card number has been compromised should report it immediately to their credit card company and law enforcement.
  • Report any suspicious activity immediately.

For more information on skimmers or to see what some skimmers look like check out click on the link


Prepared by:

Detective Timothy Lohman


Media Release Date:

August 8, 2017


Media Follow-Up Contact:

Detective Tim Lohman, , (805) 947-8255


Approved by:

Captain Bill Schierman