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    Sheetz Store Falls Victim to Drive-Offs

    String of six incidents dismissed as "just a fluke."

    SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. -- During a one-week period, a Sheetz convenience store was victimized by six gasoline drive-offs, according to Pennsylvania police reports.

    Reports filed by Shippensburg, Pa., police officers indicate the convenience store located here fell victim to the crime once on Dec. 20, again on Christmas Eve and once on Christmas Day. The store was again hit three times on Monday.

    "This seems to be just a fluke," said Monica Jones, public relations manager for Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz Inc. "Drive-offs seem to come and go from store to store at any given time. We track them on a yearly basis, but the numbers haven't seemed to jump dramatically."

    Shippensburg Officer Michael Rinaldi told Pennsylvania’s publicopiniononline.com that he has not noticed any trend in the thefts. He said some are "honest mistakes, but others you can tell are blatant thefts. That's when they pull in, pump and leave."

    He explained that sometimes people will pump their gas and then head inside to make another purchase. Some of those customers, said Rinaldi, "honestly forget" to tell the cashier they also pumped gas.

    In two of the reported thefts at Sheetz, customers made a merchandise purchase before fleeing the scene, according to the report.

    Jones told publicopiniononline.com that Sheetz employees are instructed to call the police.

    "In fact, they are instructed not to take the matter into their own hands," she said.

    All Sheetz stores are equipped with a 24-hour surveillance system and the videos are turned over to police immediately after a crime occurs, reported Jones.

    Most Sheetz locations do not require any type of pre-pay, Jones said in the report.

    But after gas prices skyrocketed in September, Sunoco began to enforce a policy that required its customers to pre-pay from dusk to dawn.

    "Sheetz believes it is not fair to punish our good, honest and faithful customers because of the dishonesty of a few," Jones told publicopiniononline.com.

    But Sheetz stores built after June 2004 are equipped with pumps that allow customers to pay by credit card, or feed cash directly into the pump panel.

    Jones said drive-offs are not an issue at these newer locations because the pumps require "100 percent pre-pay." She said the pumps were installed as a "convenience to customers" because it saves them a trip into the store.

    "But on the back end it has deterred theft because you have to pay in one form or another. It's a perk, but wasn't meant as a deterrent," Jones said in the report.

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