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Heating oil delivery truck crackdown

March 8, 2011 3:17:31 PM PST
A major crackdown took place on heating oil delivery drivers on Long Island.

Inspectors were checking trucks to see if drivers were cheating customers.

But in the process, they made some other disturbing discoveries and 48 trucks received 55 tickets.

"I'm not getting involved," the oil deliveryman said.

"Well, but you are involved," said Eyewitness News reporter Josh Einiger.

This oil delivery man did not have a very good day.

"Did you know your brakes were rusted through and you had no pads?" Einiger asked.

"No, I did not," the deliveryman said.

"So whose job is it to inspect the truck?" Einiger asked.

He didn't want to discuss the truck he'd been driving around Suffolk County, a truck police say had no business on the road.

The truck is overweight, with no brake pads, and the brake cylinder is rusted clear through.

Officers wrote the driver seven tickets.

"All of these trucks are carrying fuel, hazardous material. Needless to say a very dangerous and scary situation can happen," said Sgt. Mike Mallin, of the Suffolk County Police Department.

Police conducted surprise inspections Tuesday on dozens of trucks laden down with home heating oil, and with fuel prices skyrocketing, they weren't checking just for safety issues.

Another major focus is fraud.

"Most of the deliveries are made when no one's home, it's a fluid, it goes into your tank, it's hard to measure," said Joe Wood, of Suffolk County Weights and Measures.

Experts from the County Consumer Affairs Department brought in a mobile 100 gallon tank to check for trucks that dispensing less fuel than their meters said.

They also caught three drivers with pre-printed delivery receipts, which is a clear violation of state law.

"Say a ticket is prefilled out for delivering 200 gallons. He shows up at your house, pumps out less than 200 gallons, and leaves the receipt for 200 gallons," Wood said.

As for the delivery driver, authorities say he also had a broken meter which actually was giving too much oil to his customers.

With all of his safety violations, police weren't about to let him back on the road, so his truck was towed away.

Authorities offered important advice on how to avoid getting gouged.

That receipt you get after a home heating oil delivery, it actually gets printed right in the back of the truck.

So to prevent fraud, experts say you should make sure you see the blank receipt before it's inserted into the printer, and make sure you get what you pay for.

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