Deputies uncover alleged plot to steal diesel fuel in Polk Co.

- The Polk County Sheriff's Office says deputies uncovered a plot to steal diesel fuel when the pulled over a vehicle hauling a trailer that was missing proper tags and lights.

Detectives said they found what amounts to a traveling fuel theft operation.

Deputies said it started when they spotted the SUV on Highway 640. They said the driver, 47-year-old Donald Fowler, of Mulberry, was driving on a suspended license.

During the stop, deputies said they found a 500-gallon plastic tank attached to the trailer, with a transfer fuel pump device in the SUV's back seat. 

Also found in the vehicle were a pipe wrench, a glove, and a pair of bolt cutters, deputies said.

Investigators said Fowler admitted he broke into a shed at Putnam's Citrus Grove in Bartow and stole 60 gallons of diesel fuel.

Fowler was charged with burglary of a structure, petit theft, trespassing in an orange grove, driving an unregistered motor vehicle, possession of burglary tools with intent to use, and knowingly driving with a suspended/revoked license. He also had active warrants for failure to appear and not showing up for work release.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said diesel fuel theft is an ongoing problem in agricultural areas and praised the deputy for preventing further thefts.

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