As fuel prices decrease in Utah, drivers may not be paying attention to the quantity of gasoline in their vehicles, unknowingly becoming the victims of theft of motor vehicle fuel.
Low gas prices could equal low awareness
Gas prices throughout Utah have been at a bearable price for some time now with prices estimated to continue a downward trend. This decrease in fuel cost could lead drivers to lower their awareness of how fast they are burning through a full tank. Could it be that drivers feel more at liberty to take the long way to work or an extended lazy Sunday drive or could they actually be working with less gas than they realize?
Just a little off the top
Gasoline is a necessity for anyone with a vehicle and those strapped for cash after the holidays may borrow from others hoping it will go unnoticed. This can happen from a neighbor, a passerby, or even by an employee to a company vehicle. While the theft of motor vehicle fuel at these low prices wouldn’t amount to much of a dollar amount, it can still result in at least a class B misdemeanor for theft.
Theft of motor vehicle fluid
Another way fuel is stolen is straight from the pump. This can result in theft charges depending on the quantity and value stolen. Utah Code 76-6-404.7 states: “A person is guilty of theft of motor vehicle fuel who:
a) Causes a motor vehicle to leave any premises where motor vehicle fuel is offered for retail sale when motor fuel has been dispensed into:
(i) the fuel tank of the motor vehicle; or
(ii)any other container that is then removed from the premises by means of the motor vehicle; and
b) Commits the act (…) with the intent to deprive the owner or operator of the premises of the motor fuel without making full payment for the fuel.”
Loss of driving privilege
Beyond criminal charges, fuel thieves may also lose their driving privilege temporarily. That section also goes on the explain that “the sentencing court may order the suspension of the driver license of a person convicted of theft of motor vehicle fuel (…) for [no more] than 90 days”. Drivers in desperate need of gasoline are encouraged to seek other legal avenues for obtaining motor vehicle fuel or seek legal counsel if charges ensue.