Gas thieves make it rough on all

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Those who are choosing to pump their gas and drive off without paying for it are making it rough on the rest of us.

If you buy gas in Selma these days, nearly every pump has a hand-written sign taped on on it that reads, &uot;Please pay before you pump.&uot; It is frustrating to drive up to a gas station, turn on the pump, and have nothing happen.

Customers have to walk inside the store, pay, then go back out and pump the gas.

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Many clerks are afraid to turn on the pump for fear that a thief will gas up and speed away before making payment. And who can blame them?

Some stores require that clerks pay for losses out of their own pocket. Others require clerks to fill out a police report after the crime.

The store owners are assuming that gas thefts can be avoided. The owners are right. If the clerk does not turn on the pump until payment is made, then the odds of gas getting stolen are low.

However, many of the clerks realize that most people are honest and the clerks hate to see customers inconvenienced by the actions of a few thugs. So they turn on the pumps for us anyway. And sometimes they get burned.

Selma police can often catch the gas thieves if a license plate number is obtained and reported to police. Both motorists filling up at gas stations and clerks are urged to report these crimes to police.

The stealing of gasoline may seem like a small thing, but it’s not. Actions like this erode

the quality of life and make us less trusting of others. In the end, we end up with a society that is less convenient and less free than we were before.

We expect to have to pre-pay for gas in big cities. But this is Selma and we want to see our small town way of life maintained.

We urge all motorists and clerks to report stolen gas to the police. We also urge our police to pursue these crimes and catch those who are responsible for inconveniencing the rest of us.