Pennsylvania, New Jersey bills target fuel thieves

| Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Two northeastern states have legislation up for consideration that is intended to get tough with people who fill up their fuel tanks and drive off without paying, commonly referred to as “drive-offs,” “pump and run,” or “gas and go.”

In Pennsylvania, Sen. Richard Kasunic, D-Fayette, has offered a measure that is intended to curb the problem in the state by costing fuel thieves their driver’s licenses.

“As (fuel) prices continue to go up, this kind of theft is becoming a bigger problem,” Kasunic said in a written statement. “It hurts station owners, and ultimately it hurts law abiding (drivers) who have to pay higher prices at the pump to make up for what these thieves are stealing.”

The bill – SB1294 – would impose a 30-day driver’s license suspension for the first conviction of stealing fuel. Second offenses would result in loss of driving privileges for 60 days. The punishment would be extended to one year for third or subsequent offenses. Fines could total $250.

Existing Pennsylvania law doesn’t allow for loss of driving privileges on the first or second offense. Third offenses result in only 30 day suspensions.

A similar effort has been offered in New Jersey.

Sen. Joe Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, introduced the bill that would increase the penalties for stealing fuel.

Anyone found to have stolen fuel would face fines and possible prison time. The most serious offense would be five years in prison for the theft of 10,000 gallons or more.

Kyrillos’ bill – S595 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

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