Prices at the pump have people driving off - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Prices at the pump have people driving off

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AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) -- Higher prices have left many wondering how they can afford gas.

Now police are seeing something they're not happy with. Some convenience store managers in Rochester and Austin say more people have been driving off, without paying for their gas, leaving retailers to foot the bill.

"In the last month I've probably spent $2,000 dollars in just diesel, just running my business, in less than a month," said Tim Carroll of Austin.

Carroll said he doesn't feel people are driving off without paying for gas because they want to commit a criminal act, but because they simply can't make ends meet.

"I've seen people pull change out of their pockets to buy a gallon of gas," he said.

Local convenience store clerk, Tom Hartman, agrees people are desperate.

"You see that person that comes in here, there have been several people a day have come in and only gotten three dollars worth of gas, that's not even a gallon," he said.

For those who choose not to pay at the pump, Hartman says they have surveillance measures in place to catch you.

"We write down all the license plates. I think that's a deterrent when people see us looking at their car with binoculars, they might think twice about what they're doing," said Hartman.

For those who are falling on tough times, if you fail to pay at the pump and are caught you'll be in even more financial trouble. Austin's Chief of Police, Brian Krueger says it's a misdemeanor theft, meaning you'll be paying a hefty fine.

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