Gas drive-offs remain a problem

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Wednesday, July 19, 2000

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Gas drive-offs remain a problem

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Special to Austin Daily Herald

With recent increases in gas prices causing many motorists to dread paying more than $20 to fill their tanks, a question arises: Are motorists becoming so disgusted with the price of gas that they’re willing to commit a crime to get it?

When gas drive-offs are committed, costs are passed on to consumers as a cost of doing business.

Austin Police Chief Paul Philipp said the city has been feeling the effects of drive-offs for some time now.

"We’ve always had them," he said. "I haven’t noticed any significant increases."

Blooming Prairie Police Chief Paul Wayne agreed with Philipp.

"We’ve had a couple," Wayne said. "Not much higher than one or two a month."

Owners of local gas stations shared the views of the police chiefs.

Northside Mobil, located on Bridge Avenue in Albert Lea, said they haven’t had any problems because they are full service.

One station in Austin, however, has taken matters into its own hands. They’re tired of putting up with thefts.

Nick Kolas of Apollo Liquor and Superette has put a sign on his pumps, alerting customers to the problem.

"You receive $20 of free gas if you help to catch people doing this," Kolas said.

While this has caused drive-offs to decrease a little, he said, they continue to be a problem.

For individuals who are caught in the act, Philipp said they will have to face the consequences.

"Gas drive-offs are a theft and are charged under the theft statute," he said. "Individuals will have to appear in court, and could be given a fine."