Carlsbad police arrest man believed to be the North County's serial diesel thief

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Carlsbad police say they caught him "red-handed."

At about 3:20 a.m. Tuesday, security guards at ViaSat on El Camino Real noticed the company's surveillance cameras focused on a man who was siphoning diesel fuel from vehicles on the property. A Carlsbad Police officer arrived on scene within minutes and arrested 30-year-old Francisco Moedano.

He was booked into the Vista Detention Center on suspicion of possession of stolen gas, possession of burglary tools, petty theft, and two narcotics charges.

Police impounded Moedano's silver Toyota Rav4, which was outfitted with a sophisticated siphon system and several large plastic tanks filled with diesel fuel.

Investigators believe Moedano is the same man shown in surveillance and phone video aired by 10News over the past week. One of the videos, shot by truck mechanic Sal Martinez, shows what appears to be the same vehicle towing a trailer full of diesel tanks away from Online Trucking Logistics in Vista. The video shows the driver trying to dodge Martinez by speeding up, then slowing down. Martinez told 10News he abandoned the chase when it became dangerous.

Surveillance photos from a San Marcos business also appear to show the same silver Rav4 pumping diesel from the tanks of trucks belonging to Shred-X. Owner Manny Jimenez says his company has been hit more than once. 

"Our fuel bill has gone from about $10,000 to $14,000 a month to about $17,000, $18,000," he said.

Police say the videos aired by 10News were key in warning other North County businesses to be on the lookout for diesel thieves.

Carlsbad police Lt. Marc Reno showed the siphon that wrapped around the spare tire on the back of Moedano's vehicle and the way it was hooked into the Rav4's electrical system. 

"It looks like he's pretty efficient in doing what he's doing and stealing some gas," said Reno.

Business owners were relieved to learn an arrest had been made.

"I really need to thank you guys, Channel 10," said Jimenez. "This is a pretty big deal. So you guys being a part of this, it really been a great help to a lot of business owners, around North County."

Anyone with information on the gas thefts was asked to call Carlsbad police Detective Brett MacFarlane at 760-931-2149.

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