Local News

Gas Stations May Lose Customers To Prevent Pump, Dash Violators

Posted November 11, 2002

— We may not live in Mayberry, but there are still a lot of things people do on the honor system such as pumping gas and paying afterward. But lately, gas station owners in Raleigh are seeing more people who pump and run without paying.

Some gas station owners claim a warning sticker on pumps letting gas stealers know the crime could cause them to lose their driver's license is not enough to deter criminals.

"Even if it happens once a week, that's bad enough," gas station owner Farida Mazhar said. "When it happens, there's nothing you can do about it. We called the police a few times in the beginning, but it's not one of their priority problems."

Over the weekend, Raleigh police took 16 reports of people stealing gas. Some merchants said the answer is to make drivers pre-pay, but if they do, they believe they risk losing honest customers who feel penalized by the inconvenience.

"Especially if I'm filling up, I have to go in and pay, come back and pump," customer Jerome Bass said. "It's probably going to take more or less than I've already paid, so I'm going to have to go back and pay more or get a refund of the coverage I've paid."

"If there's one that I know of where they say you have to pre-pay before [pumping], nine times out of 10, I'll avoid it if I know it," customer Joel Houston said.

Some business owners claim the answer is for the state Legislature to pass a law mandating that all gas stations make customers pre-pay. A law passed in 2001 punishes people who do pump and dash two times by revoking their license for 60 days. If they do it three or more times, they could lose their license for six months.

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