Are gas drive-offs on the increase?

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback


Around Jonesboro nearly a tanker full of gas is stolen every month by drive offs.

As the price of gas goes up and down so do the number of thefts.

To date there have been 33 reported gas drive offs in the past three months here in Jonesboro.

Some as high as 60 dollars worth of gas.

Is the rising cost of gas to blame? The overall economy or perhaps because it's just easy to do?

Whatever the reasons it is still theft and we the honest customers have to make up the loss.

And for you the thieves here are some other things for you to consider.

Sergeant Steve McDaniel from the Jonesboro Police Department showed me the laws regarding motor vehicle fuel theft.

"Theft of motor vehicle fuel is a Class A misdemeanor and carries up to a 1 year in jail penalty or a 1 thousand dollar fine. In addition you could have your drivers licence suspended for a year if you are caught doing that."

The good news is that drive offs are down 34% from this time last year. However they are still a problem for area stores.

Kum & Go District Supervisor Scott Logemann, "Drive offs are a significant problem. Dollar wise it adds up significantly. Over the course of time calculating over all business it can add up to about half of one percent of sales."

Revenue that really can't be recovered.

Logemann, "What we're charging is just about what cost is. So if somebody does drive off you'll never get that dollar back. It's gone."

Logemann went on to say, "If you're losing cash over the course of time you got to figure out what you can do in order to get that business back. But you know if you jack it up it's counter productive because then you wind up losing the sales so you end up not getting the business back anyway. So It's kind of a Catch-22."

Most convenience stores don't require prepaying for gas and they lose the most.

The BP out on Parker road require prepaying with a cash or check unless you use a credit or debit card at the pump.

Melanie Owens was getting some gas at the BP and I asked her if it was an inconvenience to have to pre-pay.

"It is a little bit of an inconvenience at times if you're in a hurry but I can't blame the owner of a station who expects you to prepay especially when there are drive-offs."

Kum and Gos' don't require prepaying. Because like all convenience stores they want your inside business too.

Logemann, "When somebody comes in and prepays they don't come back in to get the cup of coffee or soda or a candy bar or something like that. They're generally done. It's inconvenient to have to walk in, walk out, walk in, walk out."

According to police records, most drive offs are done during daylight hours almost in plain sight of other gas customers but sometimes not in the view of employees for various reasons.

Logemann, "The way the store was built you can't see the far pumps quite as well. And it would be easy to hide a smaller vehicle on the other side for them to pull in get gas and drive off."

You may choose to drive off but believe me the police say between them and the store cameras, you're gonna get caught.

McDaniel, "A lot of times someone may think they got away but we've got a good look at what their vehicle is and even their license plate number on their vehicle so we are pretty successful at catching people."

Logemann, "There's some like this one behind me you can see them perfectly. If they ever have a drive off they usually have a good description and the police are on it before they know what hit them. "

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