Texas Battles a New Form of Rustler

Feb 8, 2016

Former police officer Mike Peters now works security for oil producers. He watches out for signs of oil laundering.
Credit Mose Buchele / KUT news

Since the birth of Texas cattle rustlers have been a scourge in the state. But now, reports KUT, the slumping oil market has given rise to a new kind of criminal in South Texas: oil rustlers. Thieves have been sneaking into well sites and stealing the crude oil, and it’s becoming a big problem.

But, why would anyone want to steal oil when prices are so low? The need for extra cash has been strong since oilfield-related unemployment took hold. And a lot of people need to get creative to make ends meet.

Crimes against oil companies are almost always inside jobs. People are hired to work in the oilfields, and then they get terminated. They know the system, so they go where they know there’s oil, and they sell it on the black market. If you have access to a tanker truck—and there are a lot of empty ones around these days—and you know how to connect it to an oil well, you can grab the oil. Another way of doing it is to partner with the owner of a well that isn’t producing much oil.