Gas theft on the rise in Arnprior, Ont.
More than any other spot in the Ottawa Valley, drivers seem to be gassing and dashing in Arnprior.
"The price has gone a lot higher and the gas thefts have increased in the past few months," says Sgt. Cynthia Savard of the East Region OPP.
At the Stinson location in Arnprior, gas bar manager Jessica Panciuk says on average someone drives off without paying once a week.
"It's been a crazy whirlwind, but we've managed to keep on top of it," says Panciuk. "But it's been happening."
Arnprior appears to be the main target for gas thieves in the valley. In 2021, the Renfrew OPP detachment reported 70 calls for gas theft in Arnprior, compared to just 26 in the town of Renfrew.
Panciuk says that could be due to Arnprior's close proximity to Highway 417 and the multiple gas stations that are located near on-ramps.
"Being in a gas station, working at a gas station, it always crosses your mind," says the gas bar manager. "You just have to stay focused, diligent, and make sure you understand what's happening within your job, but it definitely plays a factor."
Following the price hike earlier this year, some gas stations have started requiring drivers to pre-pay inside before fuelling, as a safety measure.
"One of the biggest preventions is if people pay before," says Savard.
Panciuk says sometimes forgetting to pay is an honest mistake for some drivers, but Savard says most calls police respond to are for intentional theft.
"The OPP have been really great," says Panciuk. "They have tracked down a few for us which is fantastic. Sometimes we're not so lucky."
Savard says gas theft is considered theft under the criminal code. Those who are caught will be issued a ticket and must appear in court before a judge.
"Driving is a privilege," says the OPP Sergeant, "but stealing is not an option."