Gas Driveoffs

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All across the country the price of fuel is two dollars and more...

Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken says when the price of gas goes up something else does too.

Milliken: "Studies have shown when gas prices peak, so do drive-offs."

This year the Bowling Green Police Department has seen almost 200 drive offs.

Officer Barry Pruitt, BGPD: "Through the last week of March we're looking at 194 gas drive-offs in Bowling Green that have been reported to us."

Since last year the Bowling Green Police Department, the County Attorney's office and retail gas stores have been working together to curtail the number of drive-offs. Part of the coalition involves training store clerks on how to identify someone that drives off without paying.
The penalty for driving off the pump is no joke.

Milliken: "It is a theft and it's theft by unlawful taking and it's up to 12 months in jail. And up to a $500 fine."

Milliken says when you pay at the pump to always get your receipt to prove you paid for the gasoline.

Officer Pruitt advises anyone thinking of driving off to think otherwise.

Pruitt: "I think with the efforts that we put into place I would tell people that, "If you drive off with gas, without paying, chances have really increased that you're going to get caught and be prosecuted for this. So it's not worth the risk."

The difference between a regular theft and a drive-off is that the perpetrator in a drive-off risks losing their license.

Milliken says in addition to her office having to prosecute the cases taxpayers are also paying for police to investigate.

Milliken: "They have to fully investigate these. So they have to send an officer out. An officer has to talk to the clerk. An officer has to call the individual being accused of this to make sure license plates check out. So it's a lot of time a lot of taxpayer dollars are going toward investigating these things."

An industry analyst says gas prices may have hit their peak. The Lundberg Survey says the price of gas has spiked by an average of 19 cents per gallon during the past three weeks. In western Kentucky you can find the cheapest gas, in Owensboro, at $2.01.