High prices lead to more gas drive-offs in Region 8

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - According to the "AAA" the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.45 a gallon.  This time last year the average was $2.79 a gallon.  While prices climb one Region 8 sheriff's department says crime climbs with it.

"We get a lot of feedback from customers complaining about the high gas prices," said gas station owner Greg Wood.

These days we're all getting less for more, but some are getting what they want for nothing.

"Usually when the gas prices rise we start getting more reports of gas drive-offs," said Independence County Sheriff's Deputy Brent Everett.

He said a lot of gas stations around the county are seeing a spike in drive-offs with several getting hit more often than others.

"At least one a day, it's probably more likely two to three times a day," said Everett.

While our cameras were at this Citgo in Desha, employees just had another drive-off.

"With the increases in incidents happening as fuel prices go up you've got to think that a lot of it is intentional," said Everett.

"I think most of them pull up to the outside pumps.  There's one of our pumps particularly is the most common pump used for drive-offs," said Wood.

Wood owns Riverside Conoco in Batesville.  He said it's not as bad for them because the police department is right down the road, but it does happen.

"We have really good employees that do a good job that keep an eye on drive-offs in fact we had one who ran someone down a few days ago," said Wood.

Wood said a tanker of fuel will cost anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000.

"We pay for that each time a truck comes in and every drive-off we get is just money gone," said Wood.

Police say there is one thing that can be done.

"It helps a lot if they require customers to pay at the pump with a card or pre-pay," said Everett.

Wood said they don't make their customers pre-pay because it is an extra hassle to "guess" how much fuel they need.  However, if the drive-offs get worse he says they may look into it.  Deputy Everett said stealing gas is called "theft of motor fuel".  It is a misdemeanor and can carry a fine and possible jail time.

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