2 held in theft of gas card information

Modesto police detectives Friday arrested Dwight Ken Seitzer for the second time in eight months on suspicion of using video and computer equipment to make counterfeit gas cards, a department spokesman said.

The same Economic Crimes Unit detectives who arrested Seitzer on April 5 on suspicion of stealing from Modesto-based Boyett Petroleum arrested him Friday afternoon on suspicion of stealing from the same company, again, Sgt. Craig Gundlach said.

This time, Seitzer had a new partner and detectives discovered they used a video camera to steal gas card information from the city of Modesto's Boyett Petroleum account to make phony gas cards, Gundlach said.

Seitzer, 33, and Michael Hermis, 26, both of Modesto, were awaiting booking late Friday at the Stanislaus County Jail on suspicion of conspiracy, grand theft and forging gas cards, Stanislaus County sheriff's spokesman deputy Royjindar Singh said.

Detectives had not determined how much gasoline was stolen, but they estimated it was thousands of dollars' worth.

Employees who manage the city's vehicle fleet began seeing unusual gas charges on the city's account and alerted police, Gundlach said. Boyett Petroleum managers also alerted detectives about a suspicious vehicle that was seen at one of their stations. The company's managers had a photo of the vehicle and gave it to detectives.

Detective Dave Hawn connected the vehicle to Seitzer, whom he arrested in April on suspicion of stealing gas. Seitzer is awaiting trial in that case.

According to detectives, Seitzer used the video camera to record the personal identification numbers from unknowing customers and made fake gas cards using a simple deck of playing cards and an X-Acto knife.

Each Boyett Petroleum gas card has a series of punched-out holes. The gas pump card reader uses the card's holes to match with the customer's personal identification number.

During a surveillance operation Friday, Hawn and other detectives saw Seitzer and Hermis videotaping customers at the Boyett station on Codoni Avenue in southeast Modesto, Gundlach said. The detectives pulled their vehicle over at 1:15 p.m. Inside, detectives found a video camera, a laptop computer, a partial deck of playing cards and two counterfeit gas cards, Gundlach said.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.