News From The Industry

| December 12, 2008

FBI composite sketch of hijacking suspect.

TANKER DRIVER FOILS HIJACK ATTEMPT

A tanker driver who foiled a hijacking attempt March 24 near Bloomington, Ind., handled the situation correctly, says an FBI spokesman.

The driver of a tanker loaded with 88,000 pounds of gasoline reported two people in a GMC Yukon attempted to hijack him March 24. The incident occurred on SR 37, south of Martinsville.

Truckers encountering similar threats should contact local police immediately, says Doug Garrison, an FBI special agent. The trucker, who has not been publicly identified, says he kept driving after a passenger in the GMC brandished a gun at him.

The trucker, a long-time driver for McDaniel Transport of Indianapolis, contacted his company first and was relayed to police, says Trooper Jackie Taylor. Truckers faced with a similar situation should contact police directly or call their dispatchers, who should have police contact numbers for any area where their truckers travel. Truckers should also try to gather as much information about suspects as possible without putting themselves at risk, Garrison says.

The agency received leads soon after releasing a sketch of the armed suspect, described as a bald white male with a puffy face and goatee, Garrison says. He was riding in a recent model white Yukon with flashing red-and-blue lights embedded in the grill. Anyone with further information should contact local police or the FBI at (317) 321-6147.

- Jill Dunn


STATES TARGET PRICE GOUGING

California, Nevada and Michigan have joined other states in addressing consumer accusations of price-gouging at the fuel pump. State and federal initiatives followed the rise of average diesel fuel prices to $1.77 in early March; the average fell to $1.53 by April 21.

The California Energy and Public Utilities Commission reported that there was no evidence of deliberate distribution shortages. But California Gov. Gray Davis referred to a March Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling that natural gas and energy prices were manipulated in recent years by several power companies, including subsidiaries of the bankrupt Enron Corp. He promised continued monitoring of prices.

On April 2, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm launched a website to provide current fuel price information and a complaint form. She said that companion bills were expected to be introduced that would ban fuel price gouging when the governor declares a state of emergency.

When Granholm served as Michigan’s attorney general, she prosecuted 48 gas stations following price hikes after Sept. 11, 2001. The stations had to refund more than $100,000 in overcharges to consumers and pay $30,000 in civil penalties.

Florida, Ohio and Kansas also have agreements with fuel retailers related to post-9-11 pricing and have collected thousands of dollars.

On April 2, Nevada Attorney General Brian Sandoval announced that his office had not found evidence of price gouging, though there were record price levels. Sandoval said he has increased monitoring efforts in his office and is considering an independent study of the problem.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan made price spike reporting to her office available online and by phone. Madigan pledged to question companies that might use the Middle East situation as an excuse for unwarranted price hikes.

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