Despite Prices, Gas Thefts Remain Low

Despite Prices, Gas Thefts Remain Low

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Alex Cabrero ReportingWith gas prices the way they are now, gas theft seems to be up across the country, but here in Salt Lake, police and gas stations say they haven't noticed an increase in drive-offs.

Walk into the Beck Street Tesoro in Salt Lake and you'll probably see Sherrie Ritenour smiling. But one thing always makes her smile go away.

Sherrie Ritenour: "This guy, I welcomed him on the intercom. He pumped his gas, and then he took the pump, the nozzle down and took off."

With these prices, you'd expect more people would be stealing gas, but Tesoro says that's not so.

Denise Chenger, Tesoro: "There will always be some loss in any industry. It's part of the territory, but we do what we can to minimize it."

Like training employees to get vehicle information, treating customers with respect, and cameras.

Ron Brown: "We have not noticed an increase."

Sapp Brothers general manager Ron Brown has more than three-dozen cameras and a security guard writing down license plate numbers.

Ron Brown, Sapp Brothers: "We can actually burn a video to disk and forward that to the police."

The only problem for gas stations is, unless they get a license plate or a description of whoever it is who stole the gas, there's not really much police can do.

Dwayne Baird, Salt Lake City Police Dept.: "Gas theft is a Class B misdemeanor. It's way down on the priority list."

Dwayne Baird says there aren't enough detectives to chase down all the gas thefts so they require stations to have basic information. He also thinks pre-pay is the best way.

Dwayne Baird: "If you're going to take a product from someone, you'll pay for it first then consume the product."

Gas stations admit pre-pay would eliminate drive-offs, but it's not that convenient.

Ron Brown: "And we are a convenience store. And once we become inconvenient, then we're not convenient."

Meaning paying customers might go somewhere else.

Last year, nationwide, the National Association of Convenience Stores says about one in every 11-hundred fill-ups were gas thefts.

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