COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) While you're pumping gas, you may unwittingly be falling victim to crime.
State of the art skimmers, made in Russia, have been attached to credit card machines at 16 gas stations in Colorado Springs, Fountain, Monument and greater El Paso County over the last year and a half.
Authorities in Pueblo, Pueblo County, Teller County, Fremont County, Woodland Park and Canon City say they have not see any skimmer activity at area gas stations in that same time frame.
Think they're easy to spot? Think again: crooks are now unlocking the face plate of the pump and attaching a skimmer to the inside.
"This is the first I've learned it's on the inside," said customer John Kimmel. "I always thought I was sharp enough to see them."
Colorado Springs police Detective Wayne Lambert says even if you got a peek at the inside of the face plate, they're hard to see.
"One's wired in here now," Lambert told 11 Call For Action investigator Betty Sexton. "With some of the other gray ribbon wiring, it's hard to spot."
Lambert said up to 2,000 credit card numbers can be collected once a crook attaches a skimmer.
"Locally, we're seeing [crooks] return and remove the skimmers. Some of these do have Bluetooth capabilities where a person could drive up next to the pump and download the information wirelessly."
Despite the sophisticated methods, these crooks can still get caught. Lambert says surveillance cameras helped identify two skimming suspects, 38-year-old Alexy Lopez Angel Bello and 30-year-old Jany Yusdelki de Oca. Both are from Florida, but have family ties to Colorado Springs. The suspects have yet to be located, but detectives found their rental homes. Inside, plenty of incriminating evidence.
"Credit card writers, blank credit cards, files, software that they use to rewrite this," Lambert said.
While police work to stop the suspects, some stores and gas stations are now taking extra precautions. King Soopers says their pumps have never had any crimes related to skimming. Jim Grodotski told Sexton they regularly check their pumps, and unlike some places, they don't use just one universal key.
Western Convenience and Kum and Go say they also take precautions to help protect credit card information at the pump.
Lambert says he'd like to see other gas stations take more precautions, even put tape over the keyholes so customers can see if someone tried to tamper with them.
"Make it a little more difficult, then the suspects would move on to another station where it's easier to break into."
Even your chip card can't help you at the pump, because chip card readers haven't been installed yet. Lambert says look for that to change, perhaps by fall. In the meantime, he suggests using cash. If you're not willing to go inside, use the interior pumps that are closest to the clerk.
"I would not purchase gas on the outside pumps. All of the 16 that we've recovered were on outside pumps and not the inside ones where the clerk can see what's going on," Lambert said.
Another suggestion: talk to workers at the place where you buy your gas and ask about the precautions they take. If they're not tough enough, buy your gas somewhere else.