This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS – Police confirm four men were arrested and multiple cars were recovered from a recent string of gas station thefts in the west and south St. Louis.

They are pulling up to people’s vehicles while they are distracted filling their tires up with air or refueling with gasoline. A suspect then sneaks into the victim’s unlocked vehicle and drives away.

So far in 2021, there have been 17 stolen vehicles and 11 instances of stolen items at gas stations in the city’s second police district. In many cases, the victim’s key fob is left in the car. This makes it easy for a suspect to get in and drive away.

“Basically the suspects prey on people not paying attention. When we all go to the gas pumps, we’re looking at the countdown until the thing clicks so we can take the pump out and we can go about our business,” said former Atlanta police officer and St. Louis native Tyrone Dennis.

Thursday morning, police arrested four individuals and recovered three stolen vehicles. A large display of drugs and guns was also found.

The identities of the thieves taken into custody haven’t been released yet. Police say more could be involved as the investigations continue.

The below gas station locations are where incidents have occurred:

  • 1187 S. Kingshighway Boulevard (BP Gas Station) 
  • 6901 Hampton (BP) 
  • 1514 Hampton Ave (Circle K) 
  • 981 S. Skinker Boulevard (Amoco) 
  • 2707 Mccausland Avenue (Circle K) 
  • 1615 S. Kingshighway Boulevard(QT) 
  • 3237 S. Grand Boulevard (Phillips 66) 
  • 3291 S. Kingshighway Boulevard (QT) 
  • 2166 Hampton Avenue (QT) 
  • 3311 Morganford (Phillips 66) 
  • 1104 Hampton (BP) 

“We live in a microwave age and everything is quick. We want to run and get this coffee right quick; I want to run in and pay for my gas right quick, and unfortunately, right quick we can lose our vehicles and our belongings real quick,” Dennis said.

Besides locking doors and hiding belongings, echoed in St. Louis police flyers, Dennis said to also scan the area and to lock eyes with those around to show alertness.

“When I worked robberies, I would always look at surveillance footage,” Dennis said. “And when you look at the surveillance footage, you can see people stalking their victims. And when you ask the victims they’ll say ‘He came out of nowhere,’ until we look at the surveillance and he’s been following you for a few blocks.”

He added these crimes can happen to anyone.