In Ontario, gas prices are set to equal all time highs when prices rise four cents at midnight to bring gas to more than $1.90 per liter.
As fuel prices rise there are more reports of “gas and dash” thefts at gas stations, and reports of gas siphoning from private vehicles in parking lots.
“As I moved around my vehicle, I noticed the gas cap had been removed and the gas door was wide open,” said Orlando Alberto of Scarborough, Ont.
Alberto said when he came out of his building, he was shocked to find his gas cap dangling on the side of his van and when he checked his gas gauge, fuel had been siphoned out of his tank.
“With the high prices at the pump people are trying to find devious ways to get fee gas and this is one of those ways,” said Alberto.
While Toronto police said there have been reports of gas siphoning, it’s difficult to know how widespread it is, however, there is evidence that “gas and dash” thefts from gas stations have been rising steadily along with the price of gas.
The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA), which represents 2,700 gas stations, said there were 21,000 gas thefts in 2020, with an average loss of $52 for total losses of $1,000,000, but it predicts there will be as many as 50,000 drive–off thefts this year, with an average loss of $75 and total losses of $3,750,000 in losses.
OCSA CEO Dave Bryans said Ontario should follow the lead of British Columbia and Alberta, which now make prepaying at the gas pump mandatory before buying fuel.
“This can’t continue anymore because it’s getting worse,” said Bryans. “The risk by someone getting run over by someone intending to steal gas or an employee getting hurt is on the increase.”
The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) agrees with mandating prepayment of gasoline saying it can prevent injuries to employees, the public and stop theft for retail owners.
OACP Director of Government Relations and Communications Joe Couto said it will also relieve the burden on law enforcement investigating cases where the thief is usually long gone and difficult to catch.
“It’s costing us a lot of money and it’s pulling officers from other things that could be a lot more proactive,” said Couto.
Couto said that as well as being a drain on police resources, mandating prepayment at the pump could help protect workers who may feel the need to try and stop a theft in progress where they could be hurt or even killed.
“We don’t want someone to be seriously hurt or die because they are trying to stop someone who is driving off with $60 to $80 worth of gas,” said Couto.
With an Ontario election currently underway both the police and convenience store associations want prepayment at the gas pumps to become an election issue.
Both support Bill 231 “The Protecting Ontarians by Enhancing Gas Station Safety to Prevent Gas and Dash Act,” which was introduced as legislation at Queen’s Park but did not pass into law.
With gas prices predicted to rise to $2 a liter before the May 24th long weekend there is a concern these types of gasoline thefts will continue.