Lubbock, TX (KCBD) - Everyone complains about pain at the pump, but police say some people are going too far to escape high prices.
More than two dozen people in less than 3 weeks drove away from convenience stores with gas in their tanks that Lubbock police say they didn't pay for.
"Basically gasoline drive-offs is the way we term them," said Lt. Neal Barron with the Lubbock police department.
Officers have 24 reports of drivers who each pumped on between $20 and $80 worth of gas into their tanks between December 7th and the end of 2010. On average, police estimate each drive-off to cost around $50 and in total stations have taken a $1200 hit. Most of the thefts happened at the Murphy USA stations on 82nd and Milwaukee and the South Loop. Police have a handful of reports at other stations across the city.
"Anytime we see an increase in gas prices we can look for a small increase in the gas drive-offs due to rising prices," said Lt. Barron.
Driving off without paying could cost you a lot more in the end than that tank of gas. Fines for class B and C misdemeanors range between $500 and $2000 and possibly time in jail.
"We do follow up on these cases and stores that have experienced this in the past have taken steps to prevent it," added Lt. Barron. Some stations have installed security cameras which are aimed at license plates and investigators say it is information that they use to track thieves down.
Lubbock police expect this to continue to be a problem as the prices at the pump are expected to keep going up. They encourage stations to use a pre-pay method at the pump to prevent people from stealing.
©2010 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved.