Gas Station Drive-Offs
In 2011, The Green Bay Police Department began to look for ways to increase our efficiency in order to provide better service to the community. Throughout this process we have identified a number of situations when the police expend significant resources with minimal benefit to the community. By eliminating or reducing situations like these, we can free up police resources to focus on areas that are most beneficial to the community. One of those situations are what are commonly referred to as "gas drive offs".
A survey was given to station owners to gauge the severity of the problem and look for an alternate solution. The majority of station owners agreed that a pre-pay policy was the only sure way to prevent these losses however; station operators were reluctant to institute such a policy on their own and suggested the city pass an ordinance requiring all fuel stations to abide by this practice. That effort was unsuccessful and so we examined alternate practices which have been adopted by neighboring communities.
The Green Bay Police Department conducted a study of the problem of gas drive offs and made the following observations:
- Many gas drive off reports contain incorrect license numbers and vague descriptions which hampers the officer’s ability to locate a suspect
- Station operators believe that most incidents are unintentional and therefore decline to press charges
- In most cases when the driver was located, the matter was settled by the subject paying the bill
- The police expend significant time and resources investigating cases that almost never result in charges
Based on our research we concluded the following:
- Gas drive offs are preventable by requiring customers to prepay for fuel
- The police expend significant resources attempting to collect unpaid debts with minimal benefit to the community
Certain criteria must now be met before police will become involved in drive offs. These procedures are similar to those which have already been adopted by neighboring jurisdictions. We understand that losses due to drive offs are a serious problem. Our research shows that a prepay policy is the single most effective way to prevent the loss of fuel but, such a policy is a business decision you must make.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. If you have any questions about this new procedure, please contact our crime prevention officer at 920-448-3171.
Reporting Procedure for Gas Drive Offs - Quick Reference (Updated March 21, 2020)
Before the police will investigate a gas drive off you must:
- Determine that the incident is intentional
- Obtain the license plate number of the suspect vehicle and driver description (If you are unable to obtain a license plate Number no report will be taken)
- Obtain D.O.T. registration information, either online or by mail (See attached instructions)
- Send a letter to the owner’s last known address requesting reimbursement. Allow 2 weeks for a response. (Include a copy with your report)
- Include a copy of any surveillance video or photos (if available)
- Agree to produce the employee who witnessed the incident in the event the matter is contested in court
- Complete the gas drive off report
Once all of these criteria are met, call the Green Bay Police Department at 920-448-3200 and request a police officer to be dispatched. The officer will review the report and determine if the above criteria have been met. If so, the officer will investigate the case and take the appropriate action.