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ABELINE, Texas -- While rising gas prices has discouraged motorists from taking unnecessary trips, it has increased other behaviors including theft.
The Abilene Police Department reports that four gasoline thefts have occurred in Abilene to date. "Some retail establishments have told us that they are afraid they'll lose customers if they make them pay first," Detective Ken Robinson told the Reporter News. "[But] $50 here and there adds up fast."
The theft of less than $50 of gas is a Class C misdemeanor, Robinson told the newspaper. "It's generally punished by a fine not exceeding $500. Stealing more than $50 of gas is punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail."
According to NACS: The National Association of Convenience and Petroleum Retailing, retailers who realize profits of two cents per gallon must sell an additional 3,000 gallons of gas to offset a $60 fill-up theft.
With most gas stations requiring prepayment, Millie Owen, manager of the Tiger Mart, which sells ExxonMobil gas, told the Reporter News that theft is rare. "We don't have problems with gas thefts," she told the newspaper.
However, operators, including Owen, are not taking chances as many retailers are now prominently displaying signs that read: "all drive-offs will be prosecuted."