Increase in ‘fill and run’ cases at gas stations

There is an increase in the number of motorists who fill their vehicles with fuel and then drive off without paying, gas station attendants complain.

Cases of mostly young, males driving off without paying for the fuel have become a daily occurrence in some pumps, say the employees there. And, security cameras installed at all petrol stations in the country do not appear to have deterred the budding criminals.

Gas station operators are apparently not very perturbed by this delinquent phenomenon, as any shortfall in the collection is immediately deducted from the employee’s salary. In all fairness, it must be said that the amount is reimbursed to the worker, if and when the thief is apprehended by the authorities. “When someone drives away without payment, we get their plate number from the cameras and report it to the police. When they are eventually caught and pay up, it will be transferred to the account of the worker. This procedure may take two months or more,” said one gas-station official.

Clarifying the issue from a legal viewpoint, lawyer Aziz Al-Sayed said that such thieves could face sentences of up to three years in prison. “Driving away without paying is considered a misdemeanor, as this theft was committed without breaking in, so the thief will be sentenced to imprisonment or a fine. The company of the fuel station will receive the stolen amount, in addition to compensation for the harm caused by this illegal act,” he explained.

Elaborating on this view, lawyer Khaled Al-Juwaisri said that if the pump happens to be public gas stations owned by KNPC, or if the government has a share in it, then the misdemeanor becomes classified as a crime, and harsher punishment ensues. The reason for this difference is that stealing from a public gas station is the equivalent of stealing public funds; no matter what the amount, stealing from the government is a crime,” said the lawyer.