Fuel booklets taken in recent shoppette theft
By STEVE MRAZ AND CHRIS MILES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 27, 2007
U.S. officials have warned German gas stations to be on the lookout for stolen AAFES fuel coupons after a large amount of the coupons were taken from a Heidelberg shoppette last week.
Gas stations as far away as Kaiserslautern have been given a list of a few hundred coupon booklet numbers to monitor. The booklets — sold by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to allow U.S. drivers to buy gas at a discounted rate at off-base stations — are stamped with a number specific to each coupon book.
“U.S. police notified us and gave us a list of a few hundred coupon numbers to look out for,” said M. Steffon, manager of an Esso station just outside Kaiserslautern’s Rhine Ordnance Barracks who wouldn’t give his full first name. “If these coupons show up, then we were told to decline them and call American police. We have not seen one of these coupons show up at our station.”
Neither AAFES officials nor the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command would disclose how many coupon booklets were taken, saying they didn’t want jeopardize the investigation. But Chris Grey, a CID spokesman, said in an e-mail that a “large amount” of AAFES fuel coupons was stolen.
Even if just 200 coupon books were stolen, the total would be worth tens of thousands of dollars in fuel. The current cost of a 200-liter AAFES coupon book of normal unleaded gas in Germany is $172.
Sometime on the night of Nov. 19, Heidelberg’s Campbell Barracks food court and shoppette were burglarized. The main wooden doors into the food court were smashed at the lock. Wood chips were scattered on the floor.
The food court consists of a Burger King, Seattle’s Best Coffee and counters to buy pizza and Asian food. The shoppette has a variety of standard food, drinks and household items.
Grey said that the CID is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the identification and successful prosecution of anyone involved in the theft.
Esso stations and AAFES shoppettes that sell fuel were notified to watch for serial numbers from the stolen coupon books, said Lt. Col. David Konop, an AAFES spokesman.
Officials are reminding authorized patrons to buy fuel coupons only from authorized AAFES outlets.
“If somebody tries to offer you fuel coupons you didn’t purchase legitimately, don’t make the mistake of thinking you got a bargain,” Konop said.
Anyone with information should contact the local CID office, military police or click on the “report a crime” link at www.cid.army.mil.