Local News

Pre-Pay Gas Stations Becoming Sign Of Times

Posted August 19, 2005 3:04 a.m. EDT

— Officials claim the rising cost of gas is fueling a surge in gas drive-offs, which is leading to an inconvenience at convenience stores.

In a matter of seconds, gas thieves can fill up their tank and empty the wallets of store owners. Stealing gas has become so widespread that the North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association is thinking about asking lawmakers to force every store in the state to require customers to pay before they pump.

"It's difficult to catch and prosecute, so we always see drive-offs go up," said Gary Harris, the agency's director.

Forcing customers to pre-pay is something some stores in Knightdale and Raleigh are already doing. Many store owners strongly oppose requiring customers to prepay mainly because it goes against the very nature of their business, which is convenience.

Most customers do not seem to mind.

"I think that's the fair thing to do -- to prepay because the store needs its money," says Pat Flowers.

Store clerks at a Mobil station in Morrisville told WRAL News their employer is taking matters a step further by deducting money out of employee paychecks if a drive-off happens on their watch. A company spokesman would not comment on the claims.