Law enforcement in Mankato is taking a new tack concerning gas drive offs, after those numbers jumped from the 90s to more than 130 in 2012... numbers they expect to match in 2013.
According to Officer Allen Schmidt, in the past gas stations called police in an attempt to get drivers to pay for the gas, but wouldn't press charges – making the police a sort of collection agency, which they say is a poor use of resources, and possibly a violation of civil rights.
Of the 131 calls to police for gas drive–offs, only 14 developed charges, yielding only five convictions.
The new policy for Mankato Public Safety will involve a 911 call to police only for egregious gas drive–off situations, and will require gas stations to press charges.
For cases in which a theft isn't clear–cut, or the drive off was accidental, stations will be required to take the civil law route, which includes sending a letter and waiting 30 days.
Included in today's meeting with gas station managers, were steps police want them to follow, such as posting warnings at the pump, noting license plates, and storing surveillance video.
The new policy goes into effect tomorrow, though it is still a fluid process, with changes made even at this afternoon's meeting, when several managers balked at the idea of letting the thieves go, and having to wait for a failure to pay after 30 days before they could press criminal charges.