Gas drive-off leads to thousands in damage - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Gas drive-off leads to thousands in damage

March 17, 2008

Bainbridge-- Clerks at Mr. Pips convenience store say in a small town like Bainbridge they usually rely on the honor system for people to come in and pay for their gas.  "We try to trust every customer that comes in," said Karen Harrison.

That's why they were shocked when after putting $26 worth of gas in his car, this man, deputies say is 22-year-old Traveyon Wilcox, jumped back in his car and sped off.  "They were shocked, they ran out and tried to get his tag and called 911," Harrison said.  A deputy was near Mr. Pips at the time and tried to pull the car over, but the suspect wouldn't stop.  "The deputy chased him at a high rate of speed but it got too dangerous and the deputy backed off and let him go ahead," explained Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin.

Apparently believing he was still being chased, deputies say Wilcox continued speeding down a dirt road, through a front yard and crashed into the carport and car of 81-year-old Ollie Josey's home.  "It was late and she was inside and fortunately no one got hurt," Griffin said.  But the damage to Josey's car alone is more than 10-thousand dollars and she has yet to get an estimate on the house. Josey says she was told the suspect's insurance company may now refuse to pay for the damage he caused to her car because he was in the act of committing a crime.

The get-a-way car, also in bad shape, stopped running a few miles later and deputies say Wilcox then stole a white truck and kept running until the next morning.  "His parents helped us locate him. They thought he might have gone to Shiloh where he has a Grandma," Griffin said.  Wilcox is now in jail, but a wake of damage is left to deal with.

The very morning after the driveoff managers posted these signs letting customers know thing would have to change.  "We don't have any options right now except to prepay. We're trying to figure out the best thing," said Harrison. Deputies agree the prepay policy, along with good surveillence equipment, is probably a store's best bet to prevent drive-offs.

 

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