WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | News

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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