When we see people losing their lives over a theft that amounts to a measly $40 or $50 or $100, something’s got to give.
A Toronto gas station attendant was struck and killed on the weekend by a driver allegedly pulling a ‘gas-and-dash.’ Jayesh Prajapati was hit Saturday night after a motorist driving a four-door SUV had filled his tank with $112 worth of gas and left the station without paying. The suspect was still on the run as of Tuesday night.
This kind of tragedy has happened before.
The latest incident has renewed calls for pre-payment of fuel, a system that is already in place at some stations, particularly in metro areas, and widespread in the United States.
But this crime and its fallout have revealed a related, startling claim: although there are laws against it, a grey area suggests some stations penalize the employee when such a theft occurs.
Spokespersons for some of the retailers hasten to say that they do not charge sales people – and acknowledge that doing so is illegal. They in fact say they instruct employees not to intervene, but to try to get descriptions and plate numbers to help police in any investigation.
Yet such a perception persists, suggesting it’s a practice that does occur in some places.
If that’s the case, it’s obviously an area where action is needed. Make it clear within the industry that such action won’t be tolerated and among employees that they won’t be on the hook – and put in place a means to follow up and ensure it doesn’t happen.
At the same time, given the increasing frequency of these thefts, few could blame the retail gas industry for taking steps to prevent them. It wouldn’t be the first time changes were made in the way customers pay for something. Who wasn’t mystified at first by how a debit card would work?
Pre-paying might seem like an inconvenience to some customers, it might perplex some, but it’s like anything else: once you learn the drill, it becomes commonplace.