Gas drive-offs growing problem in south Augusta

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It's a crime that often goes unsolved: gas drive-offs. Some local gas stations are being hit hard.

It's become a daily problem: drivers pumping up without paying up.

And it's not an easy crime for cashiers to see. For one thing, they don't have eyes in the back of their heads.

"The maximum is like $40 per dive-off," says Arvinder Singh, manager of an Exxon station.

It happens at Exxon at least eight times a month. That's easily $80 a week.

"When we're looking in our computer, it's showing that they're gone and we didn't get the money back."

It's money down the drain...because driving has become downright expensive.

"Not that the clerks can't keep up with it, but it does become a problem," says Sgt. Ken Eschew of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

The investigations unit receives as many as five reports a day of drive-offs. Since March 1, there have been twenty reports of gas drive-offs on Peach Orchard Road alone.

Sgt. Eschew says one solution is advance payment.

"You know, pre-pay at the pumps. I mean, obviously that's the best way."

Another way: surveillance cameras.

Singh's Exxon has two...but they're pointed straight down.

Managers say they're buying brand new cameras, and also plan to install pre-pay.

"We are trying to put the cameras, and then advance payment for the gas," Singh says.

Exxon is just one gas station being targeted in south Augusta. Sprint Foods is the other one. It's located just down the road.

The sheriff's office catches roughly 15 percent of gas thieves. Drive-offs are a misdemeanor theft charge. If the deputy finds the suspect with his car, he'll write a citation, and that driver could also lose his license.