Police: Man flees gas station without paying after claiming to h - KMOV.com

Police: Man flees gas station without paying after claiming to have disability

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

A firefighter who stepped in to help pump gas for a driver in need was later accused of theft when the customer fled the fill-up station without paying first, police said.

The situation unfolded Wednesday evening when a man, who claimed to have a disability, pulled into the Petro Mart in High Ridge, Missouri. 

The man asked a High Ridge firefighter to help him pump gas because he could not get out of his van, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

"The firefighter did notice there was a wheelchair in the backseat of the vehicle, so he didn't think anything about it," said High Ridge Fire Chief Mike Arnhart. "So he put the nozzle in the gas tank, and the guy said thank you."

Within ten minutes, a store clerk called the fire station, accusing the firefighter of gas theft because he was the last one seen at the pump before the vehicle pulled off.

The sheriff's department is not yet calling the incident a scam. They want to track down the man behind the wheel first.

"We're attempting to locate that individual in the van to find out if that was a mistake of if that was done on purpose," said Capt. Ron Arnhart with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

However, no friend was found inside paying for gas, like the man had alleged. Some believe the firefighter was suckered into a pre-planned scheme.

"He thought he was helping someone out by putting the gas in," said Fire Chief Arnhart."Afterward he felt kind of taken advantage of."

The man's vehicle is described as an older-model white van with a wheelchair lift. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Jefferson County authorities during this ongoing investigation.

Police also advise anyone who wants to help another person pump gas to not leave before the process is over and to make sure the gas is paid for.

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