With gasoline prices at an all-time high, there are fears that more people will walk away from the pump without paying.
Shawn Chaudhry, owner of Parkdale Store and Auto Services in Leamington, Ont., said this week alone there have been two gasoline thefts at his station.
“Usually we have one or two a month, but lately we’ve seen the number increase,” Chaudhry told CBC News.
“I understand it’s probably because of rising gas prices, because that’s impacting people’s purchasing power.”
Retail gasoline prices per liter hit record highs in many Canadian markets over the past week, climbing to over $1.80 per liter in parts of southwestern Ontario on Wednesday.
Because her business is located in a small town, Chaudhry said customers can pump gas before paying if the store allows it. They can also prepay.
Most departures were “honest mistakes”, he said, with most people coming back to pay when they realize what they’ve done. But sometimes he had losses.
“There’s been at least 10 to 12 drive-offs that no one has come back to pay, and the OPP asked me if I wanted to lay the charges, but I didn’t want to be so strict on that because I believe that they have their reasons. . And I believe that if they have the money that they will come back later to pay, that is exactly what I hope.”
To help mitigate some thefts, Chaudhry has installed cameras in his business to capture the plates of people leaving after refueling.
“The best we can do is be more vigilant and extra careful, but it’s not possible to quit 100%,” he added.
Thousands of flights each year
Walking away from the pump without paying is a recurring problem for owners of businesses supplying fuel, according to the head of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association.
Chief executive Dave Bryans said there were around 21,000 gasoline thefts in the province last year – before prices spiked.
“Certainly as the price of gas goes up more and more people are rushing in and that’s also hurting family gas stations in Ontario a lot because they have to absorb the loss,” he said. he told the CBC Radio show. Windsor Morning.
“A family gas station makes seven, eight cents a liter. Someone leaves with $70 worth of gas, it takes them all week to recoup their profit.”
Bryans wants all customers to be required to pay before pumping.
Legislation was proposed in 2020 – Bill 231, Protecting Ontarians by Enhancing Gas Station Safety to Prevent Gas and Dash Act – which passed two readings and was sent to a standing committee where it died when the government was prorogued.
“You just have to have someone, a young child or someone, killed again with someone in a car, and we’ll have a different discussion,” Bryans said.
“You know, at $1.83 a liter, you know more and more people can’t afford to fill those tanks, so they fill them up and get off the highway.”
In at least one incident, a 44-year-old gas station attendant died trying to stop a man from leaving without paying for fuel in 2012.