The death of a Montgomery, Ala., service station owner illustrates the point that a gasoline industry group makes over and over to its members: Losing money during a drive-off isn’t worth losing your life. Fort Husain “Tony” Caddi, 54, died Friday after being run over by a driver who police believe wasn’t going to pay for $52 worth of fuel. Police were searching for the driver of the gold or tan Jeep-style SUV.
With gasoline prices soaring, industry experts predict the number of drive-offs – and violence – will increase. “It’s something on everybody’s mind right now because it’s a commodity that virtually everybody uses,” said Sam Turner, president of a firm that operates 114 convenience stores in the South. “You’re talking about a heck of an impact to their billfold.” On average, one in every 1,100 fill-ups was a gas theft last year, the National Association of Convenience Stores said. With about a penny per gallon as profit, a retailer would have to sell an extra 3,000 gallons to offset each $30 stolen. Gasoline theft cost retailers nationwide $237 million in 2004 – more than twice the $112 million loss in 2003, according to NACS.