UNION COUNTY — A father and son have been arrested in connection with what the Union County Sheriff’s Office is calling a Midlands and Upstate crime spree involving the theft of fuel sensors.
In a statement released Friday, the sheriff’s office announced the arrests of Donald Eugene Murray, 43, and Ryan Logan Murray, 23, both of 197 Suzanne Court, Gaston.
The press release states that on Dec. 31, 2015, the sheriff’s office received reports that sometime during the night, three 8-foot fuel sensors were stolen from Valero stores at 1126 Main St., Buffalo and 1241 S. Duncan By-Pass, Union. The release further states that the sheriff’s office was notified by 911 that the Union Public Safety Department had two similar incidents during the same period at two Valero stores in the City of Union.
Each of the stolen sensors is valued at $1,500.
The press release states that on Jan. 4, Sheriff David Taylor and Investigator Scott Coffer gathered information about the ground fuel sensors, including their purpose and what the market was for disposing of these type sensors. Taylor and Coffer received a phone call from a vendor who installs the sensors and were told that each sensor contains its own individual serial number and were also told about a select market that would purchase any gas sensors. The vendor provided contact information for a possible buyer of the sensors.
Taylor and Coffer then reached out to this buyer and asked if they had recently purchased any gas probes. It was determined that the buyer had purchased several gas probes. Contact information about the seller was then provided to Taylor and Coffer.
The press release states that through a combination of investigative techniques and video evidence, Donald Eugene Murray was determined to be the suspect and a warrant was obtained for his arrest.
On Jan. 5, Donald Murray showed back up at the same business trying to sell more sensors. The press release states the business contacted Coffer and he got them to delay Donald Murray until law enforcement personnel in McDowell County, North Carolina could arrive and take him into custody.
When they arrived at the business, the press release states McDowell County law enforcement personnel took Donald Murray into custody and transported him to the McDowell County Jail. At the jail he went before a judge and waived extradition. He was then transported to the Union County Jail on Jan. 7.
The press release states that since arriving at the county jail, Donald Murray has been charged with two counts of Grand Larceny. It further stated that he is still in custody at the jail where a hold has been placed on him for other agencies to make charges.
Also on Jan. 5, Taylor and Coffer went to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office and met with investigators there to go to the residence of Donald Murray. While there, they questioned Ryan Logan Murray, which the press release identifies as Donald Murray’s son. It states that Ryan Murray gave a statement to law enforcement that he and his father had been stealing ground fuel sensors.
The press release states that Ryan Logan Murray turned himself in at the Union County Jail on Jan. 7 where two warrants for Grand Larceny were served on him.
During the course of their investigation, Taylor and Coffer were able to determine that the Murrays had stolen gas sensors from Union, Spartanburg, Laurens, Newberry, Lexington and Orangeburg counties. The press release states that all agencies in those communities were notified by Taylor and are expected to sign warrants on the Murrays in the next few days.
Taylor asked that any other law enforcement agencies that have had similar thefts in their jurisdictions to call Coffer at 864-429-1612.
Some of the gas sensors have been recovered and Taylor said they will be returned to the original owners in the near future.
Taylor said this was an unusual crime and thanked all the agencies involved in investigating the case including SLED.
This story was submitted by the Union County Sheriff’s Office.