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Auto Know: You can’t justify theft

Published April 12, 2013
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There’s no excuse for stealing gasoline. Here’s why some common “justifications” offered by pump-and-dash crooks are logically flawed:

I had no money and needed gas to get to work.

A car is a luxury. If you can’t afford it, take public transit, walk, or bicycle. Odds are such drivers also “can’t afford” auto insurance.

Speaking philosophically: Is it wrong to steal bread to feed your starving family?

Yes. Because you’ve then taken away the baker’s livelihood by which he/she feeds his/her own family.

Gas is too expensive. The oil companies can afford the loss.

In the tragic death of Jayesh Prajapati, who was killed pursuing a gas thief, the family claims theft losses were deducted from the gas attendant’s pay, though the employer disputes this.

Theft is a crime whether the victim is rich or poor.

It was an emergency. I needed to drive my sick mother to the hospital.

If it’s a true emergency, call 9-1-1 for an ambulance. Because of the urgency, you just quickly put in $10 worth rather than taking valuable time to fill up with $100 of gas, right?

Why would I break the law?

I’ve noticed on reality TV cop shows that stupid criminals often try to turn the tables and ask their accusers to rationalize their crime. That is, they’ll demand answers to questions that can all be answered with “maybe because you’re a stupid criminal” — though police likely won’t say this out loud.

For example:

Q: Why would I steal when I have money to pay for it?

A: Maybe because you’re a stupid criminal.

Q: Why would I steal when you have security cameras?

A: Maybe because you’re a stupid criminal.

Q: I’m on probation, why would I commit a crime?

A: Maybe because you’re a stupid criminal.

You get the idea. Actually, the more they go on like this, the guiltier they look.

Ironically, gas-and-dash drivers caught by police often aren’t charged and are just made to pay for the stolen gas.

If there’s little legal deterrent, perhaps gas stations should impose a $100 “victims of crime surcharge” on top of the amount owed. The funds could go to compensate families of victims such as Prajapati.

Or, stations could just require all cash customers to “pay first” to avoid such tragedies. (Most stations already have pay-at-pump for card transactions.)

Email your non-mechanical questions to Eric Lai at wheels@thestar.ca. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.

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