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article imageRising Gas Prices Causes Spike in Gas Theft

By Bob Ewing     May 17, 2008 in Crime
As gas prices climb, so do the incidents of gas being siphoned from cars parked unattended. It may be time for locked gas caps again.
During the energy crisis of the 1970s, locked gas caps began appearing on cars as incidents of gas theft were being reported.
It may be time to lock that gas cap again as a similar situation confronts car owners today.
As gas prices rise so does gas theft.
"We haven't been getting any complaints yet, but I'd anticipate we'll soon see people siphoning gas from cars -- or, we'll hear about more drivers taking off after filling up," Ian Peer, London deputy police chief.
"We've had people drive off without paying two or three times a week, lately," said Ken Patpatia, whose Maple Leaf Gas Bar on Adelaide Street South was selling gas for $1.23 a litre yesterday.
"I've put up cameras, upgraded security, but that's not enough," said Patpatia.
"We give police licence plate numbers, but they don't seem to be doing anything, or aren't catching anyone."
Already facing tight profit margins, Patpatia said he expects Canadian gas bars to soon switch to the U.S. system in which customers pay for their gas before filling up.
The surveillance system business may also experience a boom.
"We're fairly fortunate because we have a very good camera system and because of that I think people don't try," Kiki Mehat owner of Gas Zone Inc said.
"I think people are starting to accept the prices and, realistically, we're just catching up to the rest of the world. But a lot of people tell me they're driving a lot less."
"I've heard of people having gas taken from their cars, but I'm not considering it," John Herbert, 77, a semi-retired insurance investigator said, as he filled up yesterday.
"I guess I'm just one of those who believe it's not going to happen to me."
OPP have had few reports of gas thefts from pumps on farms, or even from pump-and-run thefts with pump-and-runs occur three or four times a week across the region, according to Sgt. Dave Rektor, spokesperson for the OPPs western region.
When OPEC cut oil production in the 1970s, thus reducing supplies and driving up prices, desperate drivers and hardcore crooks began siphoning gas from cars or fleeing filling stations without paying, thus creating a new industry -- gas-cap locks.
Today many vehicles today are equipped with gas-cap locks released from inside the vehicle, however, others still lack them.
Peer said drivers "need to be diligent" monitoring their gas gauges for any thievery.
"They might only take a few gallons and people aren't even aware it's been taken," he said. "But others may park their cars right beside another in a parking garage and fill their own tank."
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