TEHAMA COUNTY, Calif. – A Tehama County man is being investigated by sheriff’s deputies after he was identified as a suspect where thousands of gallons of diesel fuel have been stolen.
Authorities said recently, the county has been plagued with diesel thefts occurring at agricultural sites. Travis Eugene Banghart is the person of interest in the thefts, according to the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office.
A search warrant for Banghart’s home was served, where law enforcement said they located copious amounts of red dye diesel in the garage and around the property. The diesel was stored in barrels and various plastic containers. Authorities said a livestock trailer, that was also stolen, and was outfitted with a makeshift electric fuel pump was being used to pump the stolen fuel into a large plastic container in the back.
A large amount of diesel fuel was found on the floor of the trailer and on the ground outside. Environmental Health and Code Enforcement were called to the scene to coordinate hazmat clean-up and remove the fuel.
When law enforcement was conducting the search, Banghart was not home. However, authorities said he was aware of their presence and spoke to them through his video security system. Law enforcement asked him to come to the residence to be questioned, authorities say he refused.
The sheriff’s office said Banghart is being investigated as a suspect in other recent fuel thefts in the county and his whereabouts are currently unknown.