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Going after gas drive-offs

Published (3/30/2012)
By Mike Cook
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As gas prices continue to trend upward, so does the number of people filling up at the pump and then fleeing.

House approval was given March 22 to a bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent) that would help small businesses streamline the process of collecting money from motor fuel drive-offs.

Following the 128-0 vote, HF2333 now awaits action on the Senate floor. Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) is the Senate sponsor.

The bill would allow a trade association acting on behalf of member organizations and retailers to serve notice and collect payments within current collection statutes.

The Minnesota Petroleum Marketers Association, which represents many of the mom-and-pop or smaller convenience stores across the state, brought forth the proposal.

Swedzinski said the bill would also help local law enforcement by allowing the trade association to do an inference as to whether the person driving off meant to steal the fuel.

Oftentimes before a station allows fuel to be dispensed, an employee will write down a vehicle description and license number.

“At the end of the transaction if that person happens to drive off, they either contact local police at that current time, or they go ahead and contact the trade association to indeed figure out the address, name, phone number of that individual that stole it,” Swedzinski said.

Under the bill, the trade association, for a fee, would be able to contact the individual in certain circumstances and give them 30 days to reply and hopefully collect payment and give the money to the retailer.

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