Police and convenience store industry prepares for gas theft as prices continue to rise

Police and small retailers are preparing for an increase in “gas and dash” thefts as gasoline prices across Canada are skyrocketing due to sanctions against Russia, which is squeezing global oil supplies.

Just two weeks ago, the Ukrainian invasion has led some countries, including the United States, to ban or phase out Russia’s oil imports.

According to the Gasoline Price Tracker website GasBuddy.com, gasoline costs in the past week ranged from $ 1.60 to $ 1.90 per liter.

A spokesman for the Ontario Police Chiefs Association said he began hearing from the retail industry about concerns related to theft.

“There are national suspicions that some people may sue (for theft),” Joe Couto, director of communications for the association, said in an interview.

“Recently, people’s budgets are really under pressure … It doesn’t surprise us if some people, desperate or not, rely on this kind of behavior,” Couto said. I did.

“These are difficult times for all Canadians.”

The group is working with the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, which represents 7,500 retailers, to work with the state government on legislation that requires people to pay in advance, similar to what has already been implemented in British Columbia and Alberta. increase.

“It will really prevent a lot of gas and dashes,” Couto said.

“Mainly for us it’s a safety issue for people working at gas stations, but for our police services it represents a considerable cost to investigate as well as respond.”

Canada’s Convenience Industry Council said soaring gas prices have already spurred increased gas and dash thefts. The council noted that many stores are still trying to recover financially from the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that the state government should do more to offset costs.

“These are global issues that we have little control over, and I think they will probably get worse before they get better,” said Council Chair Ann Kotawara.

Some police agencies in the country said it was premature to say how record gas prices would affect theft, but many said the increase in such theft during the pandemic. I had already reported the trend.

Saskatoon police said in a statement that they have noticed an increase in gas theft in all sectors over the past few years.

The service said it hadn’t noticed any noticeable rises or changes since gas prices began to rise, but added that it would monitor the theft to see if there was a trend toward progress.

In Winnipeg, Const. Dani McKinnon estimated that police recently had some reports of gas theft.

“When people are desperate, they see the crime of opportunity and take advantage of it. This is what we are sure to keep an eye on.”

Pump theft has always been a concern, McKinnon said, but investigators faced a unique incident this week.

Carol Jones arrived Monday morning at Little People’s Place, which smells of gasoline, near three transport vans at the day care center. The executive director thought someone had sucked up gas from a 15-seater car, but she soon realized that it wasn’t the only thing.

“Later, I discovered that a thief actually pierced the gas tank and destroyed it,” she said in an interview.

The center uses vans to transport more than 80 children to and from eight different schools.

According to Jones, vans have an estimated $ 700 worth of gas, and repairing tanks can cost thousands of dollars.

“It’s definitely a time-sensitive situation, and it’s turning into a little nightmare for everyone,” she said.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said government agencies have not specifically tracked gas theft of personal vehicles. Data on vehicle damage related to theft is included in allegations of part theft or vandalism, making it difficult to determine how often these thefts occur.

Brittany Hobson

Canadian press