Steering Clear Of Gas Drive-Offs

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

July 22, 2005

With gas prices set at record levels, many drivers filling up their tank, may be thinking about driving off without paying.

Take a look around, on nearly every corner, you'll see the price of gas perched high in the sky. Almost as high as the price locked in at record setting levels.

At the pump, the signs say, pay-before-you-pump, as some gas stations enforce a policy to avoid gas theft.

"It's very effective because they have to pay before they come in," explained Exxon attendant Dora Bowels.

You're almost guaranteed to the signs posted after dark. There's also a chance you'll see them on the pumps employees can't see well.

"When they have to pay on [the pumps we can't see], its very effective. Because of the fact that they're paying before they pump the gas, so you don't have to worry about a drive-off," added Bowels.

Dora Bowles, an employee at the Exxon on Fifth Street, says people started stealing gas more when the prices started rising, so her station now uses the signs at night. This can assist police tremendously.

"That's one thing that most gas stations do, is make people pay at the pump, or pay before they pump--one of the two. And that does help," explained Lieutenant Texiera, of the Albemarle Police Department.

It's estimated, gas stations are losing more than $500 a month, on the gas drive-offs. It's doesn't seem like much for a national chain, but it does hurt the store. It can even hurt the person stealing the gas.

Over the last two months, there have been 24 cases of gas drive-offs averaging about three per week. On Friday, there already have been three at this location alone with one of those totaling more than $77 bucks.

Anyone caught driving off without paying for gas by city police, can be jailed for 12 months, and/or fined $2,500. If caught by state police, the license can be taken on the spot.

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