Nine people have been charged in the credit card theft of nearly $16,000 from about 175 travelers who bought Sunoco gasoline this summer at the Maryland House and Chesapeake House rest stops along Interstate 95 north of Baltimore, Maryland State Police said.
Most of the thefts occurred at the service center at Chesapeake House, a rest area on I-95 near North East, said Cpl. Robert Perrot, a state police investigator.
A complaint from an out-of-state motorist helped state police stop the thefts. More complaints are trickling in, with most coming from East Coast residents.
Three men, two from Harford County and one from Cecil County, and six juveniles have been charged, state police said.
"In a few cases, the employees filled out bogus charges to purchase tires or water pumps for their own vehicles," Corporal Perrot said. "Mostly, they just wrote a second charge slip, put it in the cash register and took the corresponding amount of cash from the register," he said.
The adults are suspected of being involved in 70 thefts in June and July at the Sunoco station only at the Maryland House near Aberdeen, according to Harford District Court records.
The teen-agers are suspected in other thefts. Some were fired during the summer by the Maryland House Sunoco station immediately but found jobs at the Sunoco station at Chesapeake House, where they are suspected in other thefts, the corporal said.
Rick Riggs, an investigator for the security division of the Philadelphia-based Sun Oil Co., which owns or leases Sunoco service stations, would not discuss the case. The company does not own or operate the two stations.
Charging documents identify the adult employees charged as Brian Heath Blackney, 22, of Port Deposit; David Anthony Fant, 26, of Aberdeen; and Keith Larry Bishop, 39, of Havre de Grace. All are charged with multiple counts of theft.
They received criminal summonses to appear in Harford Circuit Court Nov. 3, a state police spokesman said.
The six teen-agers, all boys ages 15 to 17, were not identified because they are under age 18. They have been referred to juvenile authorities, Corporal Perrot said.