A city ordinance requiring motorists to prepay for gas has reduced the number of drive-offs from more than 1,100 in 2005 to virtually none over the past 13 months, according to an Associated Press report.
The ordinance took effect last summer. Since then only 24 drive-offs have been reported — and 20 of those are only estimates from a patrol division that did not officially keep track during that time.
“That is excellent,” City Councilwoman Deb Hermann told the AP. “Based on research into what happened in other cities, we anticipated a drastic drop-off.”
Before the ordinance, gas thieves were making drive off common practice, especially at the stations along the northern and southern borders of the city.
Even though the new measures has led to a reduction of drive-offs, some owners are disappointed by a side effect of the new system.
“It’s been a bad idea,” said Dennis Carter, who owns several gas stations on the north side of the city. Carter said the new ordinance has led to a loss of cash customers. “The law, the way it’s written, gives a certain company an advantage over the rest of us.
Carter feels that some chains gained customers because of loyalty programs that allow customers to be preapproved, then pay with cash after they’ve pumped gas. “I’ve lost at least 50% of my cash customers,” he added.
But other station owners completely support the ordinance.
“We haven’t lost any business,” said storeowner Howard O’Neil. “Not at all. In fact, last year my business went up about 20%.”