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    Prepay May Be the Way

    Tired of increasing drive-offs, Kentucky police association endorses idea.

    FORT WRIGHT, Ky. -- Because more drivers are stealing gas, the Northern Kentucky Police Chiefs Association says gas stations should require patrons to prepay.

    "With the price of gas soaring as it has, we are spending too much time locating these folks and chasing them down," Fort Wright Police Chief Daniel Kreinest, who is president of the chiefs' association, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "This is not a crisis situation, but we could get an awful lot of help if people pay at the pumps."

    Kreinest said a letter will be sent to gas stations requesting they use only prepay services.

    "We just want them to do it for the good of the community," he told the newspaper.

    Kreinest said there is no plan to try and make the idea mandatory. But many of the stations in Northern Kentucky are considering or already have switched to the prepay systems because too many people are stealing gas.

    Of the larger chains like BP, Chevron and Speedway, district and regional managers decide case-by-case which sites need prepayment. Linda Casey, spokeswoman for the Speedway and SuperAmerica chain, said the prepay mandate provides a solution.

    "Some customers like the prepay and some customers don't," Casey told the Enquirer. "Unfortunately, there are certain individuals that don't play by the same rules as everyone else, and we have to do something about that."

    Managers in the chain studied the number of drive-offs and determined that several of the gas stations in the area needed to offer only prepay services, Casey said. The company would not provide statistics on their sales or drive-offs, she said.

    Nicole Beatsch, assistant manager of the Southside Deli Mart in Fort Thomas, Ky., said that over the past year, the number of people stealing gas has gone from one or two per week to five. "And if the drive-offs increase, we'll most likely have to go to all prepay pumps," she said.

    In Highland Heights, at Hungry Harold's Quick Mart, employee Ashish Shaky says he'll get about one drive-off a week.

    "But we know most of our customers," he said. "It doesn't happen very much. But when they do [leave without paying] we have to chase after them."

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