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Pay before you pump

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May 21, 2008

Albany--Record high gas prices are leading a lot of crooks to fill up and run, driving off without paying for their tank full of gas.

APD is trying to get a handle on the problem, pushing many of the owners and managers of gas stations who haven't already done so to have patrons pay before they pump.

"It's happened about four times this week," said Shameka Woodson Flash Foods clerk. 

The clerks at Flash Foods on Palmyra Road have seen it happen too many times.

"Most times they got away with about $20 worth of gas," said Woodson.

Now everyone making a purchase at one of their pumps must come in to pay or swipe a credit card at the pump.

"Now we just don't turn the pump on so they have to come in to use their flash cards to get gas," said Woodson.

That's something Albany Police have pushed for.

"One of our strategies was to have officers go around to the various gas stations and talk to the managers and owners of the gas stations to implement the pay before you pump policy," said Chief James Younger, Albany Police Department.

In the past using one of these flash foods rewards cards use to turn the pumps on but not anymore.

The card would automatically activate the pump before payment took place.

"We offer the gas card, the flash food card so the would save on gas so they won't have to steal gas," said Woodson.

Between January and May of 2007 there were 81 drive offs in the city.

So far this year they've only been 76 reported cases.

"Back in 2006 we noticed there was a problem with gas drive offs and in fact in the preceding year there had been over 400 gas drive offs which is a significant drain on our resources," said Younger.

Chief Younger says the department is still working with one company that hasn't implemented the pay before you pump feature.

"We're cautiously optimistic that they are going to change their policy because this particular company is responsible for about 73 percent of our drive offs," said Younger.

APD says drive offs cost the department an estimated 150 hours of patrol time for every 200 drive offs.

Younger said people who drive off are sometimes hard to prosecute because clerks often can't give good descriptions.


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