Some Ontario gas station owners say as gas prices have spiked, so too have so-called gas-and-dash thefts — when motorists pump fuel and take off without paying.
At one station along Highway 10 in Caledon, an owner told CTV News Toronto the thefts used to happen once every two months. When prices shot up in February and March, he said there were five thefts.
The owner, who did not want to appear on camera or have his named published, shared video with CTV News Toronto of a theft in March.
He said in that case, the driver filled a Ford F-150 pick-up truck with $188 of gas, then drove away.
The owner has since changed how people pay. Right now, unless the person at the pump is a regular customer, they must come inside to pre-pay.
Customers empathize with owners losing money from gas-and-dash thefts.
“It’s going to happen with the price of gas. I’m paying $2.03 a litre. It’s crazy,” said one driver at the station.
“Those people here, they have to make a living somehow. If they are stealing some gas they are going to pay from their own pockets. I don’t think its fair,” said another driver.
The owner said business is down since requiring pre-payment from customers, that sales are competitive and consumers like convenience, but thefts also hurt the bottom line.
All this while people feel more pain at the pump and gas prices continue to climb. Some analysts predicting they are expected to hit $2 a litre before the May long weekend.
Proponents of paying before filling up want to level the playing field and keep workers safe so they don’t go after anyone stealing.
Advocates would also like to see pre-payment made mandatory, like in B.C.
The owner of this Ontario gas station said he and other owners have written to the premier about the issue.
Bill 231, which would have required customers to prepay before being given gasoline, passed a second reading and was supposed to be referred to Ontario’s Standing Committee on Social Policy but could not proceed further after the legislative session collapsed in the fall of 2021.
The Ontario Convenience Stores Association is projecting $3.7 million in losses from the thefts this year.
It also says, by region, the ability to pre-pay is set up at 85 per cent of stations in Ontario.
CTV News reached out to OPP in Caledon for statistics on gas-and-dash thefts, which could not be immediately provided.
“When a report of theft of gas is received in Caledon, they are fully investigated. If evidence exists (video surveillance for example), it is collected and used as part of the investigation,” said a spokesperson.
SAFETY TIPS FOR RETAILERS: OPP
- Consider pre-payment or paying at the pump
- Have a suitable video surveillance system
- Remain vigilant and use an intercom system to greet customers. This lets them know you’re watching
- Attempt to record plate numbers before activating pump
- Do not get physically involved. Call your local police service
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