Archive for Thursday, August 10, 2006

Gas drive-offs increasing with prices

Police: 5 drivers leave without payment this week alone

August 10, 2006


Kansas University senior Jeromy Morris on Wednesday watched the price gauge at the Kwik Shop, 1846 Mass., tick upward - $27, $28, $29, ... - as he filled up his car.

As gas prices hovered about $3 per gallon - Morris said he wasn't surprised about reports to Lawrence police that five drivers since Monday have driven away without paying.

"It doesn't cross my mind, but I could definitely see people doing it if they are broke and they need to get around town," Morris said.

Just before 3 a.m. Wednesday, someone left the Kwik Shop, 4841 W. Sixth St., without paying for 10 gallons of gas, valued at $30.53, according to police records.

Two drive-offs were reported Tuesday evening - one valued at $45 from the Kwik Shop at 1846 Mass., and the other valued at $10.25 from BP Amoco Fuels, 3020 Iowa. Also, about noon Monday, the Jayhawk Food Mart, 701 W. Ninth St., reported that someone drove away with $30 in gas.

Officers responded to a fifth drive-off at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Kwik Shop, 1714 W. 23rd St. An emergency dispatcher said at 4 p.m. that officers had found the vehicle and likely made the driver return to the store and pay.

Police reported last month that they were responding to an average of four drive-offs a month this year, compared with five calls per month in 2005. That's a small percentage of the more than 8,000 total calls that police handle per month. Drive-offs are not tracked separately from thefts other than being coded in dispatchers' computers.

Ryan Lammers, a Kwik Shop clerk who experienced a drive-off on Wednesday, said it was common practice for the store to accept payment rather than press charges against those who drive away from the pump. He was not aware whether Wednesday's driver was found and required to pay, and a police report was not available.

Roger Flory, a manager at the BP station at 3020 Iowa, said he has recognized more frequent drive-offs as prices have increased.

His station requires customers to prepay or pay with a credit card outside only at the pumps farthest from the store. Other Lawrence stations have recently required all customers to prepay or pay at the pump on nights and evenings, or all of the time.

Flory also said he would consider it effective for Lawrence to pass an ordinance as Kansas City, Mo., did requiring fuel stations to make customers prepay, but he was unsure of its overall support.

"Some people just deplore the idea, but at the same time, it's reached the level now that there's got to be some change," Flory said.

Drive-offs can be difficult for law enforcement to handle, he says.

"If I can't get the description of the car, it serves no purpose," Flory said.


sweetpeagj 11 years, 10 months ago

Actually the comments that I have recieved from LPD when I had to report them was I authorized the sale without first making them pay so it was my responsibility and not the plice departments. Even when they have had a full description snd plate number it wasn't pursued. people need to realize that we don't make the rates increase the price of tankers does. I hate to pay that much also but in order for me to go to work that it is what I have to do. Must be nice to niot have morals and values so that you can rip off honest worling people.

Steve Jacob 11 years, 10 months ago

It's not news if people steal a $30 watch from Target, so what's the big deal about gas?

conservative 11 years, 10 months ago

What I learned from this article is that you should drive off from Kwik shop. Chances are you won't be caught and if you are they won't press charges if you pay for it at that point. Why not take the chance?

Really surprises me in these article how often the gas stations make statements that really aren't in their best interest.

doc1 11 years, 10 months ago

sweetpeagj. I'm calling BS on that. If there is a suspect then a crime would be pursued. If an officer told you that he must not care about his job. It's their duty to investigate crimes, especially if there is a suspect. If it were found to be true (what you said) then that Officer would lose his job. No disrespect, but people often exagerate when they tell stories about police.

audvisartist 11 years, 10 months ago

C-Stores have total control over paying before you pump. I just can't feel sorry for them if they're getting ripped off because people are filling up before paying and then taking off.

monkeyhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

sweetpeagj~ I tend to believe your response from LPD regarding your reported gas theft. However, if that were the case, anyone who opens their doors to the public would also be subject to the same judgment call. For instance, if I walk into Weaver's, help myself to a nice suit and walk out the door without paying, I should not be held accountable because they didn't make me pay before I walked in the door?

Being poor, having a bad childhood, alcoholism or any other kind of infliction DOES NOT make it okay to break the law and receive a free pass in life. This mentality is what continues to make Lawrence a great place to be a criminal.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 10 months ago

prepay is a hassle unless you know you are going to put in only 10.00. Destitute is not a reson for stealing gas, gas is not one of the things you need to survive, no money for gas walk or have someone lend you a bike.

craigers 11 years, 10 months ago

Stealing anything has a great amount to do with morals. It might not be the whole story, but morals are hugely involved.

reginafliangie 11 years, 10 months ago

Make it mandatory to pay before. Problem solved. Then maybe the c-stores won't have to waste officers time when they could be dealing with more pressing issues. Gas gets paid for and no more problems....mmmmmmmm seems so simple.

Raider 11 years, 10 months ago

sweetpea is correct. LPD officers will not do anything about drive-offs. Even if you give them the vehicle description and tag number, they will not pursue. I know this for a fact. I'm close to someone who is a supervisor of about 5 Lawrence C-stores, and this is an ongoing problem with LPD. They've even been shown security footage before and chose not to pursue.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 10 months ago

time for the old horse and buggy no more pump and run just water and oats and gallup how about that hehehe sorry not enough coffe yet just had to.

reginafliangie 11 years, 10 months ago

Raider, I dont know where you get your information. But I know for a FACT that LPD does try to go after these people. It does help to get car information. If that isn't avalible how can they help? If they have video that shows the tag they can usually track them down. But alot of times that isn't visable from the tape. Most of the gas station people that call in the driveoffs decide its not worth the effort and say they dont want a report. So if the gas stations are unwilling to report it why should the officers look for the car? You just let the driver off the hook. Gotta have somebody willing to prosicute for the officers to waste the time tracking them down.

Kontum1972 11 years, 10 months ago

so if u rob a bank for gas money....will let u go if u pay the bank back....or will the just shoot u on the spot then ask questions.....?

countrygirl 11 years, 10 months ago

For those who prefer to pay cash for gas, prepay is a pain. But it would solve the drive off problem.

bookoff 11 years, 10 months ago

gas too expensive? Easy solution: STOP DRIVING!!!! The ridiculous thing about American culture is that for the last 60 years people have acted like its our birthright to have a car, and that walking more than 3 yards is a travesty. Lazy lazy lazy, I seriously do not know why America is a world power.

egypt 11 years, 10 months ago

I walk to work and to the library But I live in the middle of nowhere, so grocery shopping ect, I drive to (or I better plan on walking 2 hours with a arm load of groceries)


oldgranny 11 years, 10 months ago

I don't condone driving off without paying for your gas. But I can sure see with prices the way the are how people can get desprate enough to do that.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 10 months ago

I worked at a kwik shop and it was not "the destitute" ripping you off on gas.....9 out of 10 times it was someone in a newer, nicer car....usually a male between the age of 18 to 34....It is more of a f*ck you! thing then someone doing it for survival.....

jayhawks71 11 years, 10 months ago

Oh Marion, give it up, the conservative republicans can't even succeed at lowering prices in their war for oil.

jayhawks71 11 years, 10 months ago

doc1, the police don't "care" about you or about pursuing criminals. Get past the misguided idea that government officials are benevolent!

kg52 11 years, 10 months ago

My son works in a convenience store in Topeka and they have cameras at the pumps that record each car's license number. The cameras weren't cheap but they have saved the owners some big bucks as it is a very busy place, one of the busiest in Shawnee County. It also takes some of the pressure off the clerks when there are multiple pumps to try to keep track of. Also these owners do prosecute and it is well known so they just don't have much problem any more. Also it is true that convenience stores really don't make as much money off gas as they do the other things in their store. This particular store makes the majority of their profits on fast food items.

gr 11 years, 10 months ago

plumberscrack: "Funny though, when we had a democrat president in office, gas was just over a dollar?! Oil man and republican president Bush, it only took 6 yrs to get gas to around $3.50 a gallon!"

Do you really believe if a democrat got back in the office, gas would go back to under $2 a gallon?

countrygirl: "For those who prefer to pay cash for gas, prepay is a pain. But it would solve the drive off problem."

So, we are talking about putting video cameras up downtown to stop crime, but yet we can't worry about nor solve the drive off problem? Something's wrong there. Rather than requiring pre-pay, how about requiring video cameras that will record people enough to identify?

If the police aren't prosecuting crime because they have better things to do, something's wrong there, too. Where do you draw the line? If someone steals clothes, well, they can't be bothered by that. If someone shoots someone in a bar, well, it was just a bunch of drunks anyway, and it cuts down on that type of riff-raff. I guess we could determine that murder is pursued, but theft is not, so all the businesses had better arm themselves. (I guess they can, now)

A simpler solution would be to require (or give the incentative to) the police to pursue criminals which have been identified, and rather than saying, "naughty boy, please pay", put some teeth into it. Give a cut to the police department, and a cut to gas station. Say, $150 recovery fee to the store on top of paying for the gas should make people think twice about driving off, encourage stations to prosecute, and not make it a pain to the rest. (I will leave and go find a station which doesn't require pre-pay). Sounds like a win-win-win solution to me.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 10 months ago

well it took alittle help from planes hitting buildings and cat. 4&5 hurricanes but I am sure they all made sure the right person to blame was in office first...

conservative 11 years, 10 months ago

Personally I always pay at the pump with my credit card anymore, even if I'm going to go in and get a soda. The reason is because of an incident a few years ago. I went to a gas station, filled up with gas and went inside for a soda. When I checked out I told them which pump I was on. They ran my card, I signed it and left the building. Several hours later I happened to notice that the charge on the card was for less than a dollar. They had forgotten to add the gas onto the bill. I went back to the store and talked to the person who was now on duty. I received a huge lecture from this person on how it was a good thing that I had decided to return and pay for my gas because driving off was stealing, and they had turned my information into the police. I tried explaining that the problem had been their attendant but she just kept on lecturing. Finally I was able to pay the bill and go about my day, after first making certain that they reported to the police that they no longer needed to be on the lookout for their drive off. (the fact that they were looking for a woman instead of a man and had the color of the vehicle wrong struck me as a little humorous).

Makes you wonder how many other of the "drive-offs" they have are simply cashiere errors.

prioress 11 years, 10 months ago

Interesting information here about the Alaska Pipeline shutdown and part of the history behind it.

gphawk89 11 years, 10 months ago

Just implement prepay or pay-at-the-pump and be done with it. That will positively end drive-offs. Period. Why is this even news?

When you purchase items at a grocery store, WalMart, or whatever, do they let you carry your items out to the car and then come back in to pay for them? No. Why should gasoline be any different (other than the fact that the gas is already outside when you put it into your car)? If you're soooo inconvenienced by having to walk into the station to prepay, well, then, just deal with it. I just takes a minute.

gr 11 years, 10 months ago


They let you put items in your cart before you have to pay for them. Cart, Car.

Otherwise, you go in, give them more money than will take to fill it, go back out, fill, go back in, get change. All the while waiting in line twice and hoping they remember how much you gave them.

Charging an extra fee if caught, and making sure you catch them will effectively end drive-offs, too.


I too was wondering how pipelines suddenly go bad with no idea of their condition. Do you suppose with the bum luck of no hurricanes to damage refinerys providing an excuse for raising prices, this was a good time as any to do maintenance long overdue?

gphawk89 11 years, 10 months ago

"If you're soooo inconvenienced by having to walk into the station to prepay, well, then, just deal with it. I just takes a minute."

Actually I shouldn't have said that since it applies to me. I never walk into a gas station. If I pull up and realize it not a pay-at-pump, I just go on to the next station. Probably haven't actually walked into a station (just to pay for gas) in months. In my case it has less to do with the couple minutes' inconvenience than it does being harassed or panhandled by other people in the lot. Maybe I'm just filling up in the wrong neighborhood...

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