New Law Could Reduce Number Of Gas Drive Offs

By: Kimberly Burcham Email
By: Kimberly Burcham Email

With gas prices at record levels, police say the number of people driving off without paying for it continues to increase. A new law that goes into effect later this month would give gas station owners more power to enforce penalties for drive offs.

Officials with Kentucky State Police say gas station drive offs are becoming more and more common, costing stations money out of their own pocket. That's why Kentucky lawmakers say they're putting a new law into affect starting July 15th that will allow them to get some of that money back from those that fill up and run.

Police say catching someone who drives off without paying for their gas is difficult. They say even though most gas stations have surveillance cameras, they can usually only identify the license plate.

“All we had was the plate number, didn't see who was pumping the gas. We'd go to the house the only thing they'd have to say was so and so was driving my car. We'd find so and so and they said well, I let one of my buddy's borrow it. So it's hard to determine who drove off,” says Chad Easterling, Kentucky State Police.

But starting July 15th, it won't matter who does the pumping without paying. The new law states the owner of the vehicle will be responsible for paying plus a 30 dollar fine. This is a concept Shell employees say they can agree with because as it stands now, if there is a drive-off on their shift, they are the ones who have to pay.

“The way I see it if they're driving your car and they do it on yours then, yeah they should be responsible. And it's nice to know if it comes out of my pocket that I might get it back,” says Celena Jones, a Shell employee.

“We're excited about that. I mean at least we know we're going to get our money back,” says Connie Fugate, another Shell employee.

But that's not the only crime high gas prices are fueling. Gas siphoning is also becoming more common. Even Kentucky Senator Johnny Ray Turner has had gas stolen right out of his car.

“I had gas siphoned out of my car. Now that gas prices are so high, I’m hearing that there's a lot more of that going on,” says Senator Turner.

But there is one thing you can do to protect your gas from being siphoned. Stores like advanced auto parts sell fuel caps with locks on them.

Managers say they've been flying off the shelves these days, but Turner says as long as gas prices continue to climb, he doesn't see thieves stopping at any cost.

“What can you do? I mean if people want to be dishonest, then they'll be dishonest no matter where it's at. They break into homes. You know, there's nothing you can do to stop it,” says Senator Turner.

Turner says he does think the new law will help the gas stations financially.

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  • by RKB on Jul 15, 2008 at 10:45 PM
    I absolutely hate to go in and pre-pay for my gas but now that I know the poor minimum wage employees are paying for losses out of their pockets I won't complain again. It is appalling that the gas station owners treat their employees like this. There is no other business that I know of that requires employees to pay for stolen goods. This is criminal in itself.
  • by CHECK Location: DRAWER on Jul 8, 2008 at 07:30 PM
  • by billyjack Location: Ashland on Jul 7, 2008 at 12:18 PM
    Don't you think that as the price went up the drive offs went up. When the oil companies were gouging us, after hurricane Katrina, I don't think the average citizen cared if the oil companies were not paid, but we all realize that most of these convenient stores are independently owned and cannot afford the driveoffs. Especially when they are only making 5 to 7 cents on each gallon. With a 20 gallon drive off it would take sales of approx. 4500.00 just to make up for that loss with no profit at all coming out of hte 4500.00. Even if you think the oil companies are ripping us off, it just is not right to steal.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 7, 2008 at 09:33 AM
    yes there is away to stop it put the led to there butts that will stop them. let some one try it on me. just hope they dont get caught. gas is to high to let some pot head or pill head steal it from dont try it on this boy cause it wont work for u.
  • by me Location: ricmond on Jul 7, 2008 at 06:13 AM
    It's just plain common sense is to make people PRE-PAY and you wouldn't have to worry about drive offs!!! It might be an inconvience for some but this is what is best for the business. If the gas stations loose too much money they will close down and then where will these thiefs go to steal their gas??? They should make the punishment alot tougher on gas stealers then just paying for the gas they ripped off and a $30 fine, give me a break, make the fine much higher than that so they will learn not to do that again and give them jail time and post their picture on the front page of the local newspaper!!!
  • by Joey Location: KY on Jul 7, 2008 at 06:02 AM
    N/A Location: KnottCo said it best: PRE PAY! If you pre pay or use a credit card at the pump, there is no way a drive off without paying will occur. Is it a nuisance to walk in and prepay? Yep, but it's better than them using drive offs as an excuse to raise the price even more. I don't want to hear whining about gas prices; crime is crime no matter how you look at it. If it isn't yours, you don't take it...nuff said.
  • by Heather Location: lexington on Jul 7, 2008 at 05:59 AM
    I agree with N/A-why don't the gas stations require everyone prepay? I live on the southside of Lexington and all of the gas stations in my area are prepay only.It would simplify the whole process instead of the police having to track down drive-offs!It's a no brainer!!
  • by ghettochip Location: richmond on Jul 6, 2008 at 07:59 PM
    "This is a concept Shell employees say they can agree with because as it stands now, if there is a drive-off on their shift, they are the ones who have to pay." As much money as the oil companies are making off the working class, it's a shame that the employees are stuck with paying for the drive offs. That is totally unfair and should be unlawful. Working people should not give up their time to pay for others' criminal actions. We are already funding a war that we don't agree with at the expense of the health of our children. Those of you who want to drill...what good will that do? There is a limited supply, anyway. It won't significantly offset the cost of fuel. What will be left for future generations if we drill and destroy the planet? Are you so selfish that you care little about your children's or granchildren's children? Get rid of your SUV's and gas guzzlers. Ride your bikes and get healthy. Be smart.
  • by N/A Location: KnottCo. on Jul 6, 2008 at 05:47 PM
    Pre-pay...problem solved.
  • by What Location: RIchmond on Jul 6, 2008 at 03:30 PM
    They have the cars plate number but because the cameras dont identify faces well they arent charged? SOunds like if more people knew this it would happen more often. Oops now they know. This laws a common sense one the person that owns the car is responsible. Same as if they let a unlicensed kid drive or it was involved in a hit and run and not reported stolen.
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