Pennsylvania bill targeting fuel thieves dies; New Jersey bill still active

| Monday, December 04, 2006

A bill in Pennsylvania 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" has died.

Sponsored by Sen. Richard Kasunic, D-Fayette, the measure remained in the Senate Judiciary Committee when the session ended last month, effectively killing it for the year.

The effort was intended to curb the problem in the state by costing fuel thieves their driver's licenses.

Kasunic said the protection is needed because drive offs are becoming a bigger problem.

"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," he said in a written statement.

The bill - SB1294 - would have cost drivers convicted of stealing fuel their driving privileges for 30 days. Second offenses would have resulted in loss of driving privileges for 60 days. The punishment would have been extended to one year for third or subsequent offenses. Fines could have totaled $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 remains active 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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