Dunn, N.C. — A national policy by an oil distributor is prompting a spree of drive-offs from a Dunn gas station.
Like other Murphy stations, Murphy USA on East Jackson Boulevard doesn't have a requirement that drivers pay for their gas – with either cash or by swiping a credit or debit card – before pumping. Police said the policy has prompted two or three drive-offs a day as gas prices have approached $4 a gallon.
"The attendants there at Murphy have so many pumps and so many cars there, many times they just can't watch everything," Dunn Police Chief B.P. Jones said.
Many of the thefts have resulted in losses of $80 to $100, and although most gas thieves are eventually caught, Jones said every gas station should switch to a pre-pay system to reduce the potential for drive-offs.
“It’s just a nuisance type of call,” he said.
Many stations have already made the switch. In Fayetteville, for example, there were 49 gas drive-offs in the first five months of this year, compared with 343 during the same period a year ago.
Gas drive-offs haven't gone up with the prices in Raleigh, where more stations have gone to pre-pay policies, a police spokesman said.
Driving without paying for gas is a misdemeanor in North Carolina, punishable by 120 days in prison for repeat offenders.
Jones said a Wilco Hess station on West Clinton Street in Dunn also has been a frequent target for drive-offs because it doesn't force people to pay before they pump.
"(The attendants) try to make eye contact with the people, speak to them, wave at them," he said.
The company that owns the Hess station couldn't be reached for comment. Murphy Oil wouldn't comment on its national policy against pre-payments.