There once was a time when only the bad kids--you know, the ones who spent all their car money on bitchin' decals--would peel out of gas stations without paying. Now, reports are blossoming nationwide of shoplifters of every age and demographic refusing to shell out to Shell (or Texaco or Chevron). Idaho is no exception. The Idaho Press-Tribune reported last week that Nampa police dealt with nine complaints of gas theft over the week before Labor Day, and 21 since August 1. The thefts ranged from a $7.86 top-off to a $60.02 SUV guzzle-o-rama (We can just imagine the thief's mindset: "If I hit $60 exactly, I'll pay ... d'oh!).
The Associated Press reported on September 9 that eastern Idaho service stations suffered a similar trend over Labor Day. Rexburg police reported six gas-theft complaints over the weekend, along with others in St. Anthony, Ashton and Island Park--although Rexburg Police Chief Randy Lewis acknowledged the possibility that in some cases, the pump may have simply failed to read customers' credit cards. Put another way, expect the word "prepay" to have a much larger presence in our lives over the coming months. Stinker Station President Charlie Jones admitted as much to the Tribune. This means not only added inconvenience, but also greater exposure to impulse-buy items like caramel Cow Tails, herbal uppers and anatomically shaped novelty lighters. Consumers, stay strong and put your blinders on.