Suspect in Custody in Gas Station Vacuum Thefts

A man suspected of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in quarters from coin-operated vacuums at area gas stations is in custody.

The Prince George's County (Md.) Sheriff's Office has 41-year-old James Jackson in custody.

Jackson is also suspected in Fairfax County, Virginia, where police say the thefts have gone on for a long time.

"We have several gas stations in our jurisdiction that have been hit by the same individual, and we have some cases that we are still looking into as well," Fairfax County Police Officer Reem Awad said.

Jackson broke a lock and took a cash drawer full of quarters from an Exxon station vacuum in Tysons Corner Sept. 3, sources said. A month later, he allegedly returned, put a quarter in the machine and heard it was empty, but he went to the vacuum on the other side of the station and broke into that one.

Jackson was identified by surveillance video and witnesses, sources said.

Tahir Muneer owns 106 car vacuum machines and says 58 of them have been ripped off. Muneer, the owner of the Landover Hills Exxon in Prince George's County, said he loses about $1,000 in coins with each theft and has lost $200,000 overall over several years.

Muneer said sometimes the thief used a grinder to cut through the special locks or used a drill to get to the cash box. When that doesn’t work, the man used a vacuum to suck out the quarters, Muneer said.

Muneer said he believes the man caught on his security cameras also hit numerous other stations in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

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