Drive-Offs Worry Station Operators

Drive-offs are on the rise throughout Illinois.

Dennis Bias keeps a close eye on who's filling up at his pumps lately. In the past 20 days three customers have filled up but not paid up.

"It's to the point that's just how frustrated they are with prices of gasoline," says station manager Bias.

With many stations selling fuel two or three cents below the market price to keep up with competition, those who pump and ditch keep their bottom lines hovering near empty.

Drive-offs cause real financial hardships for station. According to Bias, "We have to watch, if you have a customer drive off with 20 dollars that’s our margin for a few weeks or sometimes just adding to the loss."

Rockford police deal with an average of 25 drive-offs a week, but Sgt. Dennis Olson says those numbers have not pumped up with rising gas prices."

He says, "I haven't seen a significant increase. The kind of people who drive off, they'll drive off whether it's a dollar a gallon or whatever."

Many area stations have pre-pay policies, which could be offsetting some of those numbers, but Bias and other gas station managers tallying up police reports say that's hard to believe.

Either way, they're keeping a closer eye on their pumps and those using them.