Convenience stores

Police and convenience stores brace for gasoline thefts due to high prices

Groups are lobbying the Ontario government for legislation that requires people to pay upfront

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Police and small retailers brace for increased gasoline and dashboard thefts as gasoline prices in Canada soar following sanctions on Russia that have strained the world oil supply.

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The invasion of Ukraine just over two weeks ago prompted some countries, including the United States, to ban imports of Russian oil or move towards eliminating them.

Gasoline costs ranged between $1.60 and $1.90 per liter last week, says gasoline price tracking website GasBuddy.com.

A spokesperson for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police said the retail industry has started hearing about theft issues.

“There’s a national suspicion that some people may resort to (stealing),” Joe Couto, the association’s communications director, said in an interview.

“People’s budgets are really stretched these days…it wouldn’t surprise us if some people, out of desperation or otherwise, resorted to this type of behavior,” Couto said.

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“These are difficult times for all Canadians.”

The group is working with the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, which represents 7,500 retailers, to lobby the provincial government for legislation requiring people to pay upfront, like what is already in place in British Columbia. British and Alberta.

“It would really prevent a lot of gas and dash,” Couto said.

“For us it is primarily a matter of the safety of people working at service stations, but for our police services it represents a significant cost not only to respond, but also to investigate.”

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The Convenience Industry Council of Canada said high gasoline prices have already spurred an increase in gasoline and dashboard thefts. The council noted that many stores are still trying to recover financially from the COVID-19 pandemic and argued that provincial governments should do more to help offset the costs.

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“These are global issues over which we have little control and I think it’s likely to get worse before it gets better,” said Anne Kothawala, chair of the council.

Some police departments across the country said it was too early to tell what effects record gasoline prices will have on thefts, but many had already reported a growing trend of such thefts during the pandemic.

The Saskatoon Police Department said in a statement that it has noticed more gasoline thefts across all of its divisions in recent years.

The service said it hadn’t noticed a noticeable increase or change since petrol prices started to rise, but added it would monitor flights to see if there were any trends. in development.

In Winnipeg, Const. Dani McKinnon said police had recently received several reports of petrol thefts.

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“When people are desperate, they look at crimes of opportunity and they seize that opportunity. That’s something we will definitely continue to monitor.”

McKinnon said while pump theft is still a concern, investigators faced a single case this week.

Carol Jones arrived at Little People’s Place on Monday morning to smell gasoline near the three daycare transport vans. The executive director thought someone had siphoned gas from the 15-seater vans, but soon discovered that was not all.

“We later found out that the thieves had actually drilled into the gas tanks, destroying the gas tanks,” she said in an interview.

The center uses the vans to transport more than 80 children to and from eight different schools.

Jones said there was about $700 worth of gas in the vans and it would cost thousands of dollars to fix the tanks.

“It’s definitely an urgent situation and it’s turning into a bit of a nightmare for everyone,” she said.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said the agencies do not specifically monitor gasoline thefts from personal vehicles. He noted that any vehicle damage data related to thefts would be included in parts thefts or vandalism claims, so it is difficult to determine how often these thefts occur.

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