High Gas Prices Bring Out More Gas Thieves

For almost four years Ashley Baxter has worked as an attendants at the Shell station on Highway 90 in Gautier. In that time she's seen very few drive offs, or people who fill up then leave without paying.

"I've been doing this for about four years and I've had about four drive offs in the past," said Baxter. "Until last week. I had two in one week."

Baxter blames the drive offs on high gas prices and doesn't see an end to the problem anytime soon.

"It's definitely gonna get worse as prices go up," says Baxter.

Shelley Shumock is manager at the Dodge's Chicken Store in Gautier. Lately her store has had the same problem.

"Yesterday we had four drive offs for 107 dollars," said Shumock. "We've probably gone from a hundred dollars a month in gas drive offs to about eight hundred dollars."

Both stores report the drive offs to police who they say have been a big help in combating the problem.

"We've had probably about five people that we've prosecuted in the last two months that actually drove off and they caught them," said Shumock.

She also says the store is trying to be proactive in putting an end to the problem.

"We have people that we put out by the pumps to observe people getting gas and look for anything suspicious," says Shumock.

People who drive off without paying could face a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Second time offenders face the same penalty and the loss of license for up to six months.

by Josh Ridgdell