Pump and Go

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COLUMBIA - Nearly a dozen self-service gas stations in town have employees who claim they have seen more and more people driving off without paying for their gas. One gas station employee suggests a reason for the increase in drivers stealing gas is because it's simply become too expensive to pay.

Gas stations have begun to post signs and require pre-pay to try to avoid patrons from driving off without paying for their gas. In some cases, the clerk on duty is responsible for paying for gas that has been stolen during their shift.

Full-service gas stations don't face the problem of people driving off without paying. Ross Mutrux, manager of Mutrux Automotive, said his employees fill the tanks of their customers so they avoid the issue of people taking off.

Attorney Bogdan A. Susan said getting caught stealing gas could, "lead to, depending on the amount, whether you face a misdemeanor or a city ordinance violation. If the person has committed multiple thefts they could also face a felony just because of prior criminal history."

A felony charge could also occur if the person convicted steals more than $500 in gas. This can happen if someone is filling a boat or other large machinery.

Susan suggests customers always print a receipt just in case there is a mistake made while at the pump.