It's a story reporters across the nation can count on when the price of gas shoots upward. Station manager Linda Woodard gave the familiar sound clip. "We've had several drive-offs and with the gas as high as they are there are probably going to be several more."
Okay, gas is approaching $3.00 a gallon. But someday we may think that's cheap. A quick look in the KTRE News Archive found that in the gas theft story that ran in 2000 gas was only $1.49 a gallon. Oh those were the days.
The price of gas may have changed, but the penalties haven't. Sgt. Greg Sowell said, "It would be my suggestion to do anything but steal it because if you do get caught the penalties are harsh." Stealing gas is a misdemeanor, but swipe more than $50 of it the crime becomes a jailable offense. Sowell reminded, "I submit to you that it's hard to fill any vehicle up now without it hitting $50."
Over the years stations are more sophisticated in keeping watch over their pumps. They also have a good idea who makes stealing their practice and those who resort to it out of need. Woodard said, "We do have some regulars that we watch now who have been stealing gas. We watch when they come up. We automatically won't turn the pumps on, but there are some I feel like that can't afford it."
Until we get used to these high prices you will want to keep a close watch on your tank. Gasoline is often siphoned out of automobiles. Also if you own a bulk storage tank be sure and lock it up.
Right now people are stealing gas because of the high price, but if the availability of gasoline becomes scarce there will be yet another reason for people to contemplate dishonesty. And it will give reporters another angle on a familiar story.