Pumping gas is one of many acts so routine to daily life, it’s easy to switch our minds to autopilot once we stop the car. But it’s precisely that inattentiveness that is contributing to a growing problem occurring at gas stations across our region: theft.
Gas stations may not seem like breeding grounds for thieves. After all, patrons are rarely more than a few feet from their cars. When pumping gas, however, drivers are often distracted by their phones, television monitors or just the increasing numbers on the gas pump. They may also step away from their vehicles to pay for gas or goods inside the station. All this time, their car doors usually remain unlocked, providing thieves with a window to strike.
If a criminal spots a valuable item inside the vehicle, all they have to do is drive up next to the car, open the door, grab the item and quickly drive off. Thieves have also been known to jump in the driver’s seat and steal the car itself. All said, a criminal can pull off a heist in the matter of seconds.
Gas Station Safety Tips
Taking simple precautions can go a long way to minimize your risk of danger at a gas station. Here are some helpful tips.
- Whenever possible, use gas stations that are well-lit, located in busy areas and have surveillance cameras. If you’re in unfamiliar territory, begin looking for a station sooner rather than later. This will provide you with the opportunity to skip ones that look unsafe, rather than being forced to stop because you’re nearly out of gas.
- Pick a gas pump that is well-lit and closest to the building or attendant, even if this means waiting for the pump to be free.
- Always remove your car keys, lock your doors and roll up your windows before getting out to pump gas.
- Keep valuables, including handbags and wallets, on your person or out of sight.
- If you have a panic button on your key fob, keep your finger on it and press it if you feel like you’re in danger.
- If you don’t have to gas up late at night, don’t. Wait until the morning.
- Resist the urge to look at your phone and keep it tucked away.
- If you need to enter the station to buy something, fill up your gas tank first, then move your car closer to the store, park and lock the doors.
- Most importantly, always pay attention to your surroundings, even if you’re at a familiar gas station in the middle of the day.
- Credit card skimming devices are often placed on gas pumps, so be cautious when using your card for payment. Look for any signs of tampering, such as loose or misaligned card readers or broken security tape, and cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN.