INDIANAPOLIS - As gas prices exceed $3 a gallon, many Indianapolis gas stations are seeing an increase in the number of drive-offs, TheIndyChannel.com reports.
"I spoke with a local retailer this morning and he told me that usually when it hits about $3 a gallon and above that's when he sees an increase at the station he runs," said Indiana State Police Trooper Dave Poynter.
Rural communities have reported more drive-offs than their city counterparts as there is a diminished police presence there and many do not offer a prepay system. However many are now reassessing their security measures as theft increases.
"We always feel we can give good customer service if we can allow the customer to go ahead and pump the fuel first," said Ron Seay, Kroger safety manager. "When the incident rate for drive-offs increase, then we have to do what we have to do."
The Kroger Gas Center in New Castle reported three gas drive-offs in the past week. The station has now installed a surveillance system and made the pumps hardest to see prepay.
Over the past decade, NACS has seen misdirected anger at rising gas prices lead to an increase in gas theft. However, gasoline theft has declined since September 2005 (post-Hurricane Katrina when gasoline rapidly increased and topped $3 per gallon) when more stations began mandating prepay for fuel. In 2009, gasoline theft cost the U.S. convenience store industry $89 million, a steady decline from the record $300 million reported in 2005.
Here are some tips to help reduce the likelihood of gas theft at stores where customers can still pump first, then pay:
- Increase sales associate training so that store employees more effectively monitor what's happening at the gasoline islands.
- Redouble efforts to greet all customers €" whether by intercom or in person €" at the gasoline island. This takes away the feeling of anonymity that often increases the likelihood of theft.
- If appropriate, install cameras at stores so if people do steal, they will have it on tape and can work with law enforcement to prosecute thieves.
- Work closely with authorities to prosecute gas thieves.