Gas Thefts Still High

September 18,2005 -Posted at 11:05 p.m. CDT

FAYETTEVILLE -  High gasoline prices are continuing to result in a greater number of people driving off from filling stations without paying. In addition to the usual penalty for theft, people who steal gasoline in Arkansas can wind up with their driver licenses suspended for six months.

But prosecutors say they are limited in how many culprits they can pursue in drive-off cases. Evidence is tough to gather because thieves hide their faces from security cameras and remove their license plates.Many stores have opted for a pay-first policy.Merchants say they want their customers to know that prices arehigh at the distribution point, and those costs have to be passed on.

Merchants also say that margins are so thin that one gas drive off can wipe out a day's profits.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)