• Center for Problem oriented policing

Summary of Responses to Gasoline Drive-Offs

The table below summarizes the responses to gas drive-offs, the mechanisms by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve taking several different measures. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

Response No.ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If…Considerations
Increasing the Risks of Gasoline Drive-Offs by Improving Surveillance
1Increasing staff levels at peak timesIncreases employee surveillance of the pumps...the pump island is visible, so store employees can easily watch customers in peak theft hoursExpensive and may only be justified in large facilities
2Using an intercom to greet customersReduces felt anonymity and deters gasoline thefts...the employee and customers establish a dialogue by intercom or in personInexpensive; especially effective in peak periods and on single-staffed shifts
3Providing employees with professional trainingEmployees are more likely to notice suspects and take preventive action...training sessions are organized together with police; an 800 emergency number is provided to staffTraining is costly, but can improve relationships with local police
4Ensuring that the pump area is well-litImproves natural surveillance, dissuades would-be gas thieves, and reduces customer fear...lighting is protected with weather and vandal-resistant coverings; light sources minimize glare and intrusivenessEffective lighting involves relatively high running costs, but all convenience stores should be well-lit
5Making it easier for clerks to see the pumpsIncreases employee surveillance of the pump island...all store window coverings are removed and view of the pumps is not restricted by shrubs, trees, etc.Store register need not be located in the center of the store as long as clerks have clear view of pumps
6Employing qualified security personnelOffenders are more likely to be apprehended...security officers are positioned at strategic points in around the site at high-risk timesVery expensive; might only be justified in dealing with sharp rises in incidents
7Using closed circuit television (CCTV) camerasIncreases the probability of arrest as well as serving as a deterrent...the installed system is adequate to meeting law enforcement needs for identification and prosecution of offenders and is combined with license plate recognitionCCTV requires trained staff to monitor and maintain the cameras
8Deploying interactive video monitoring (IVM)Enables a remote control room operator to monitor hundreds of cameras at many different sites; allows managers to view cameras when not on-site...primarily used to monitor and verify alarm activation signals and dispatch respondersVery expensive to install and to monitor effectively, but allows highly versatile monitoring
9Using scan-data analysisProprietary programs gather information about all transactions at the pumps, including gas drive-offs: permits identification of high-risk pumps and high-risk times...qualified analysts are employed to analyze the data and preventive action is taken on the basis of any patterns in drive-offs that are revealedThe programs are expensive for individual stores to use and might be of greatest value for retail chains
10Introducing a postpay systemCustomers register their names and addresses in advance and are issued a card: eliminates the inconvenience of pre-pay...customers drive off without paying, the card is immediately deactivated and their names and address are given to the policeThis is primarily a method of identification; it makes it easier to prosecute offenders; ensures that gas customers enter the store
Increasing the Difficulty of Gasoline Drive-Offs
11Imposing mandatory pre-paySignificantly reduces the opportunity for gas drive-offs and makes it easier to prosecute offenders...pre-pay is instituted 24/7, but less impact on sales if used only for some pumps at certain timesFewer customers may make purchases in-store; some customers might switch to nearby retailers without prepay
12Installing pay-at-the-pump equipmentPrevents fuel thefts as fuel is not dispensed until cash, debit, or credit cards are inserted into the pump...the store does not depend upon in-store sales for its profits; customers become comfortable using pumps like vending machinesConvenient for customers who simply want to get gas; reduces stress on clerks who no longer must watch the pumps while serving in-store customers
13Controlling access to fuel dispensersPrevents would- be offenders from filling up...offenders are prevented from gaining access to the internal components of the fuel dispensersAn innovative technology that protects access to pump electronics and limits offline fueling access
14Reducing escape points from the siteDrivers can be prevented from easily "escaping" by minimizing the entrances/exits, reducing their width, and using perimeter fencing and bollards...fences are expanded metal, welded mesh or paladin; minimum height of 6 ft.; Quickthorn or Hawthorn hedging are planted next to the fence and kept trimmed to increase securityA one-time expense, but an essential component of a well-managed site
Responses with Limited Effectiveness
15Discouraging gasoline theft through warningsPlacing a sign on the pump which includes a simple message that gives possible offenders second thoughts...placed directly by the pumpsMost research suggests that publicity campaigns of this kind are rarely effective