West Allis to require pre-pay at all gas stations to curb drive-offs

WEST ALLIS -- Drivers filling up gas tanks and taking off without paying is a problem that goes up with the price of gas -- and an issue West Allis is looking to remedy. The West Allis City Council has approved an ordinance requiring gas stations make customers pre-pay for gasoline, in an attempt to avoid these drive-offs.

Clerks at Poor Richard's gas station near I-894 say the gas station is a frequent target of gasoline drive-offs.

"Usually when we do get drive-offs and we call the cops, the cops don`t really do anything anymore. We get scolded because it happens so often," Gabby Beesley said.

Soon, requiring drivers to pre-pay for gasoline will become mandatory. The West Allis Police Department asked for the ordinance after its officers responded to about 600 drive-offs between 2006 and 2011.

"There are about 25 gas stations in West Allis. The majority already have pre-pay. Our officers are spending a lot of time investigating a crime that could be stopped really easily," West Allis Police Department Deputy Chief Bob Fletcher said.

Police will send letters to gas stations informing them of the change and that they need to comply by November 1st.

At the Mobil station on 76th and Lincoln, Steve Froehlich paid after filling his tank Tuesday, September 25th -- perhaps for the last time within city boundaries.

"On one hand I don`t like government intruding on my how people operate but then again, if the city of West Allis isn`t going to cover drive-offs and protect the businesses, something has to be done," Froehlich said.

FOX6 News spoke with several people filling up their vehicles with gasoline about the new requirement. Most said they don't mind the change -- saying they pay at the pump with a credit card already. Those who seemed to be bothered are those who pay with cash. They said it will be inconvenient to pay in advance when they don't know exactly how much it will cost to fill their tank.