Gas Thefts Up In Longview - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/14/05-Longview

Gas Thefts Up In Longview

With prices getting higher by the day, gasoline has become valuable, so valuable and expensive that some people in Longview are willing to take a chance and steal it from the pump.

"Its a perennial concern for police it happens all the time. It gets worse as the prices go up," said Longview Police Sergeant, Richard Spruiell.

Clerks like Michael Jones now find themselves being part security officer, very watchful of drivers at the pumps.

"Leaving their doors open , engines running, stuff like that. We also have a listening device so we can hear people out at the pumps," says Jones.

Surveillance cameras have caught dozens of drive off suspects, and Jones has even heard people on intercom talking about stealing gas.

"I've actually heard people on that thing say they were going to drive off so I didn't turn their pump on," Jones says.

In 90 days, from May 1st to July 31st, Longview police recorded over 500 gas theft drive-offs in Longview. To combat the problem many stations have gone to a pre-pay before you pump policy, not turning on the pumps until payment is made. But a lot of stations still go on the honor system allowing their customers to pay after they pump their gas, its something the customers like but that trust comes with a watchful eye.

"With gas prices higher it does make it more difficult you've got to watch a little bit more," says Jones.

"It effects businesses which could effect every other aspect of life in the city," Spruiell says.

Gas theft is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, and a $2,000 fine.

Bob Hallmark, reporting. bhallmark@kltv.com

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