Businesses seeing spike in crime as gas prices rise - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Businesses seeing spike in crime as gas prices rise

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Prices at the pump continue to rise, sparking gas-related crimes, according to local businesses.

Locally-owned businesses are suffering the hit from higher gas prices, especially those dealing with rentals like U-Haul and Penske. Owners say thieves are sneaking onto their lots, and siphoning gas from their fleet of trucks.

Sunday evening, two individuals from Knoxville, Tennessee were arrested: 37-year-old Kimberly Renea Cogdill and 37-year-old Troy Wayne Davis. Both are facing charges for trying to steal gas. They are also charged with illegal possession of a controlled substance. Their bond is set at $12,000 each.

Regarding their alleged attempt to steal gas, rental companies say this isn't an isolated incident.

"As soon as we see gas prices go up, we see an increase in our loss of gas," says Gary Freeman, owner of C & G Auto, which hosts Penske trucks for rent.

"Several times a week we'll lose out of two or more trucks, some fuel. Twenty gallons is substantial when it accumulates. We're losing several hundreds of dollars over a week," says Freeman.

Just down the road, the manager of Pat-Mor Salvage sees a similar loss with their U-haul trucks.

"They have siphons, with a pump. Pump it out right into a gas can right under it, it fills it right up," says Rick Mallo, the General Manager of Pat-Mor Salvage.

Both Mallo and Freeman believe thieves are targeting their lots because there are multiple trucks right in a row, all of which usually have full tanks. The trucks provide coverage, they say, for crooks coming onto their property late at night.

Both companies are increasing their security but believe this trend will continue until gas prices become more affordable.

Freeman explains there are parts available to protect your own car.

"If you do not have a locking fuel door, make sure you have a locking gas cap," suggests Freeman.

He says locking gas caps are not realistic for a rental fleet.

"The trucks go from spot to spot with too many different drivers. Renters sometimes forget to return the key to the ignition, adding another key would just be more work. The next driver would have to break the cap to put gas in," explains Freeman.

However, he says they are a good investment for your personal car and can be found at almost any auto-parts store.

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