In every state, the theft of any form of personal property is illegal. The penalties for theft depend on the value of the thing stolen, and the circumstances of the individual crime. Generally, punishments for theft can range from moderate fines and restitution for petty theft, to jail time for more serious offenses.
The crime of theft is committed when a person knowingly takes the property of another, intending to deprive him or her of its use. Gas theft clearly fits this definition (the gas is someone else’s property, and the thief intends to use it himself, depriving its owner of the use of his property).
With gasoline prices on the rise, gas theft has become an issue of particular concern. Gas theft takes 2 basic forms. “Pump and run” theft is when the offender pumps gas and then leaves the station without paying. Because most stations now require the customer to pay before pumping gas, this is less of a problem. The other form, siphoning, is when the offender steals gas from somebody’s car.
Many states have passed, or are debating, laws creating harsher penalties for gas theft than would be applied to theft of items of similar value. There is a trend in some states which allows convicted gas thieves to have their drivers’ licenses revoked.
In one interesting case, a Maryland woman convicted of gas theft was required to stand outside a gas station wearing a large sign reading “I was caught stealing gas.”
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Last Modified: 12-20-2012 04:22 PM PST