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    Iowa Fights Drive-Offs

    Stricter punishments and new procedures help the state crack down on gasoline theft.

    AMES, Iowa -- With gas prices soaring, local convenience stores are reporting increased occurrences of gas drive-offs, the Iowa State Daily reported.

    Liz Pieper, assistant manager for an Iowa Kum & Go, said drive-offs are a significant problem. "We see anywhere from five to 10 a week, but it varies with price," she said.

    But retailers are fighting back.

    Pieper said one security measure they employ is having the cashiers authorize the pumps themselves, instead of having automatic authorization.

    Another measure taken to prevent drive-offs is House File 440, which came into effect July 1 and allows authorities to take away a person's driver's license for 30 days if they have been convicted of two or more gas thefts.

    "It's not that big of problem in Ames compared to other cities," said Ames police department Sgt. Brian Braymen. "States with large populations, like coastal areas, have gone to prepay to help prevent it."

    He added that gas stations in Des Moines have implemented identification cards for drivers wishing to purchase gas.

    "At those stations, if you aren't going to pay with a credit card, then drivers have to put an identification card in the slot to allow it to pump," Braymen said. "We'll eventually see something like that here unless gas prices go down."

    Other states are also taking measures against a steady increase in drive-offs, including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

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