New Energy Crime Stopper program in place to help stop energy thieves

"The thieves are clobbering us..."

Those are the words from east Texas oil companies and authorities who are now asking for the publics help to stop energy theft. Today, the Texas based Energy Security Council unveiled its new Energy Crime Stoppers program to solve theft and fraud in the energy sector. But as KLTV 7's Molly Reuter shows us, it's not just the oil companies that are suffering.

At first glance, pump jacks aren't all that exciting. But to a thief, the equipment it's made up of and the product it produces is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"It happens every time there is a boom. It's good old supply and demand," said Joe Howard of the Hunt Petroleum Corporation.

And that, authorities say, leads to criminal activity.

"Theft of equipment, theft of product, theft of services and it's amazing the volume of it," said Sgt. Kenny Ray of the Texas Rangers.

It's the reason the Energy Security Council, a non-profit organization, and Crime Stoppers have created a hot line number: 1-888-OIL-TIPS.

The oil industry and law enforcement say they need the public's help, especially when it comes to crude oil. It's almost like oil laundering. Every day, authorities say thieves are taking hundreds of barrels of crude oil. They know the thief is selling it to someone, who then sells it to another person, but how it gets to the refinery is still a mystery.

"It's pretty much a closed society, and we are not getting a lot of information and a lot of tips," said Sgt. Ray.

But with gas prices as high as they are, we just had to ask - why should the public help the oil companies?

"The same people that are causing the problems for the oil company in the area of crime, those same individuals are the same individuals who are causing problems in your community and your neighborhood," Howard told us.

And just like most things, the oil companies say the cost will eventually trickle down to you.

The Energy Crime Stoppers program has been in effect since July.

Again, the hotline number is 1-888-OIL-TIPS, or 1-888-645-8477. It is anonymous, and rewards will be offered.

Molly Reuter, reporting.