Theft, also referred to as robbery, is the criminal act of stealing. Gasoline theft is a type of theft where the criminal steals gasoline from another without paying market value for it. Gasoline theft is more common when oil prices rise. It typically occurs in one of two ways: pump and run and siphoning.
Pump and run occurs when the criminal pumps gas at a gas station and leaves without paying. Most gas stations require payment prior to pumping, so this type of gas theft is no longer very common.
Siphoning is a method of stealing gas from someone’s car. The perpetrator siphons off the gas by sticking a hose into another car’s gas tank and sucking the gas out. The thief siphons the gas into his or her gas can. Gas is usually siphoned from parked cars.
Is Gas Theft Illegal?
Yes, stealing gasoline in all fifty states is illegal theft of personal property. Some states consider it petty theft so long as the amount of gas stolen is less than $400 dollars. Penalties for theft depend largely on the value of what is stolen and the facts and circumstances surrounding the crime. The punishment for the crime of theft generally includes criminal fines or jail time.
Is Gasoline Theft the Same as Gasoline Fraud?
No. Gasoline fraud is a white collar crime in which the criminal acquires gasoline through false representation of fact. For example, a person who uses another person’s credit card to purchase gasoline is committing gasoline fraud. Fraud requires the thief to intend to deceive someone using misrepresentation of fact, whereas gas theft is the simple act of stealing regardless of intent to deceive another.
How Can Someone be Found Guilty of Gas Theft?
For a criminal to be found guilty of gas theft, three elements must be proven:
- The defendant knowingly took the gasoline;
- The gasoline belonged to another person or entity (such as a gas station); and,
- The defendant intended to deprive the owner of its use.
What Kind of Crime is Gas Theft?
Gas theft can be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the jurisdiction and facts of the case. For example, if the value of the gas is valued at more than $400, it could be a felony. If the theft is a minimal, then a misdemeanor charge may result.
Should I Contact an Attorney?
If you have been accused of a crime, you should speak with a lawyer immediately. A skilled criminal defense attorney will be able to advise you of your rights, help you with your defense, and advise you as to what options may be available to you.