Thieves are finding novel ways to disguise fuel thefts from gas stations, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune: They use stolen license plates to thwart identification by watching clerks or video cameras. Gas station employees in several Minneapolis-area cities have started working with a police online database to nab the thieves. Chaska, Mn., police are advising residents to park in a locked garage or under bright lights to thwart plate thieves. More stations are requiring pre-paid gas.
Other cities are experiencing more drive-offs, some with stolen plates, covered plates or no plates. In New York, a man charged with stealing $34 of gasoline in May tried to elude detection by covering his plate with shaving cream. “Clearly the number of stolen plates is increasing as gasoline prices are increasing,” said Lakeville Chief Tom Vonhof. In the past three months, Lakeville had 32 drive-offs, with and without authentic plates, compared with 67 in all 2007.