Drive-offs a problem for gas station owners

April 21, 2011 6:47:28 PM PDT
As people across the tri-state area are dealing with gas woes and having to pay the higher costs, gas stations are dealing with the drive-offs.

"People see the gas prices and they think the station owners are jacking up prices and making a killing; they're not, they're making pennies on each gallon they're selling," driver Abe Safah said.

Azhar Ahsan's family owns the Exxon station on Marlton Pike in Cherry Hill.

Before prices started creeping up toward the $4 mark, they barely saw any drive-offs. Now, they see at least two incidents a week, where people ask for a full tank of gas and take off without paying.

A drive-off yesterday morning even ripped a hose out.

Ahsan's repair bill will be about $300 which doesn't compare to having to eat the costs of people not paying for gas every week.

"This is a father and son operation, we end up paying for it; the gas attendants, we don't make them pay it," Ahsan said.

A few days ago, a driver sped off to avoid paying and ended up dragging the attendant in North Jersey.

The New Jersey Gasoline C Store Automotive Association (NJGCA) says it doesn't keep numbers, but drive-offs increase as prices climb.

Ahsan says measures are being taken to make sure people pay for what's pumped.

"You're going to start seeing a lot of businesses charging for the difference for cash and credit; you're going to start seeing businesses asking for the cash or credit card payment up front," Ahsan said.

Last week, Rhoads and O'Hara, a hardwood supply company in Cumberland County, realized someone had been stealing gas from its trucks since December. The thieves stole 2,000 gallons of diesel, worth $6,000.