Gas stations look to limit pain of theft at the pumps

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - On this St. Patrick's Day Marathon gas station store manager Sheila Jordan is seeing green. Green in terms of dollars, thanks to people like Donna McLendon, who are doing the honest thing and paying for their gasoline.

"Prices go up, we pay and we work," said McLendon of Wetumpka. It wasn't always that way.

Two years ago when gasoline prices shot up, so did the number of drive off's at Jordan's store on Taylor Road and Highway 231 North.

Big bucks poured down the drain every month. "$250 every month," said Jordan.

Nationwide, the petroleum industry reports retailers lost $300 million in drive off's in 2005. One year later a dramatic drop when thieves collectively stole $122 million in gasoline.

Montgomery police say for now it's not an issue in the city. However, three gas stations in Ozark have reported thefts.

The main reason for the decline is because stores like Jordan's have invested thousands in pre-pay pump systems, simply meaning you have to pay before you fill'er up.

"I have control of the pumps from the inside with a button," said Jordan.

Gone are the days when people would steal from her in broad daylight, like one man who drove away after pumping more than $50.00 worth of gas. In fact, Jordan got in her car and chased the suspect down. They ended up on Taylor Road and Interstate 85.

"I knocked on his window. He never rolled it down and just drove away," said Jordan.

Much like the 'juice' itself, Jordan's temper gets mighty explosive when it comes to people stealing, no excuse she says, even if gasoline prices are high.

"Stealing is stealing," Jordan said.

That means pre-pay and prevent an angry woman from being hot on your trail.

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