Gas station drive-offs a concern in Rutland - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Gas station drive-offs a concern in Rutland

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RUTLAND, Vt. -

While you may feel robbed at the pump filling up your tank gas stations in Rutland say they're the ones getting swindled.

"You know, I know a lot of customers that come in, a lot of regulars," said Virginia Pierro.

Pierro says after working at the Tenney Brook gas station in Rutland for a decade, talking to customers is her favorite part of the job. She says giving customers her full attention is a priority but it isn't always easy.

"And sometimes that's difficult because it's easy to get distracted because you don't want to ignore the person that you're ringing up, but on the other hand, watch the gas as well," Pierro said.    

She says the employees have to keep a close eye on the pumps because often times people gas up and drive-off without paying.

"We get a lot of calls of theft from services from gas stations, and we are trying to determine what those causes are," said Rutland City Police Chief James Baker.

Baker says new crime-mapping software has allowed the department to breakdown and analyze all service calls. By looking at trends in the data, they have been able to pinpoint the most frequent types and locations for crime. The first crime to pop up on the list is larceny. And a chunk of those thieves were fueling up.

"Gas station theft – drive-aways -- account for about 17% of our larcenies in the city. So if we can come up with a preventative solution to prevent that from happening, we can drive down those calls for service, focus on the more serious issues like domestic violence," Chief Baker said.

The department is still working on a solution -- but Chief Baker says they have found a common denominator in the problem. 87% of the gas drive-aways last month, came from stations without prepay. Pierro says if her station switched to pre-pay, it might cut down on gas theft, but she worries it would also slash profits.

"We get a lot of UPS trucks, Central Vermont Public Service -- when they come in and fuel up, if they've prepaid, they don't know how much they're going to get. That might discourage them to go to another gas station, because they don't have to worry about that," Pierro said.

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