Senator Fuschillo Sponsors Legislation To Increase Penalties For Stealing Gas From A Pump

Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.

April 28, 2005

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), Chairman of the Senate’s Consumer Protection Committee, has sponsored legislation to enhance the penalty incurred by individuals who fill their car with gas and then drive away without paying.

Under current law, all individuals who steal gas from a pump can be charged with petit larceny, which is a class A misdemeanor and punishable by a fine and/or a maximum prison sentence of one year. In addition to the current sanctions, Senator Fuschillo's legislation would create the additional penalty of a mandatory six month license suspension for second time offenders, and a full year suspension for those who commit this crime three times or more. This will send a clear message that this is not a victimless crime and will punish the offender for making other consumers pay extra at the pump.

"These criminals are stealing millions of dollars in gas each year, forcing law abiding citizens to pick up the tab out of their own pockets. That is unacceptable," said Senator Fuschillo, who is also a member of the Senate's Transportation Committee. "With the rising occurrence of this crime, new deterrents are needed to keep people from breaking the law. A driver’s license suspension is something that everyone wants to avoid, so this proposed law would make individuals think twice before skipping out on the bill at the gas pump."

"The Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association supports this legislation in its overall intent. We applaud any effort to stop the practice of adjudicating from gas stations after refueling, as this has become an all too common practice in our industry and is doing serious harm to our retailers’ businesses," said Bob Santasiero, Vice President of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association.

"Gas prices are high enough already without consumers being forced to incur extra expenses to pay for the actions of a few dishonest individuals," said Roger C. Bogsted, Commissioner of the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs. "I applaud Senator Fuschillo for sponsoring this new measure, which will afford new protections for both law abiding consumers and gasoline retailers."

Called either a "gas & go", "drive-off", or "gas-n-dash", the occurrence of this crime has risen dramatically recently. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, gas theft cost over $100 million in 2003, and is far more prevalent in cities or other densely populated areas, such as Long Island and New York City. The association says that stores in these types of areas have reported as many as 2-3 gas thefts per day, each of which range between $20-$50. Numerous other states, including Connecticut and Pennsylvania, have enacted laws placing restrictions on the driver licenses of people who drive off without paying for their gas.