Rising gas prices lead to rising drive-offs

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Gas prices may soon be going up again.

Gas station managers say they are losing money because too many people are driving off without paying.

"Watch out, because they are cracking down on it," says Angela Hawkins, manager of Greg's Gas Plus. "They're going to start enforcing it."

She's talking about drive-offs. As gas prices go up, so is the crime of leaving the pump before leaving your money.

"We've had about 160 dollars in drive-offs in the last six days," Hawkins says.

The pilot gas station right off I-20 in North Augusta learned the lesson the last time gas prices skyrocketed. Now you must pay before you pump...and customers like Tristina Jensen don't like it.

"I think it's ridiculous that I have to take ten more minutes to go in and out the door to go pay and go get my card," Jensen says.

With quick getaways from many gas stations, those who pump and just pull away are rarely caught. But if you are, don't think saying you were in a hurry and forgot to pay will keep gas stations from pressing charges.

"No, it's not an accident," Hawkins says. "We've had a couple who've claimed 'I only wanted $10 worth, I didn't mean to leave the pump on and pump $60'. It's no accident."

Accident or not, North Augusta Public Safety say they are on the look out...and they're pumping up patrol.

"If you're caught with a violation, you will lose your license and you have to pay the fine," says officer Patrick McGrath. "If not, you'll do the actual jail term."

North Augusta Public Safety tells us they take this crime very seriously, just as they would a hit and run.

If you are found guilty of driving off in North Augusta, you will get a ticket and lose your license for at least 6 months, and you could face fines up to around $1100...that, or you could spend 30 days in jail.

Penalties in surrounding counties are about the same.