St. Louis City, County sees trend in cars stolen from gas stations while people pump gas

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:52 PM CDT
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RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. (KMOV) - News 4 is telling you about a crime alert happening across the Metro.

Cars are being stolen from gas stations while people are at the pumps.

We first told you about it happening months ago at gas stations in South St. Louis County, but now we’re seeing it spread throughout the city and county.

Sunday night Samantha March’s 18-year-old son Maki went to get gas at the QuikTrip on Hanley in Richmond Heights.

He went inside to pay and came out to find the car gone.

“He was like mom, mom oh my gosh somebody just got me somebody just got me,” March says.

The teen had just graduated from Clayton High School earlier that week.

March says Maki was celebrating with friends and family, before he decided to fill up her 2014 burgundy Chevy Impala.

“It’s very sentimental,” March says. “The things that were in the car were just worth more than gold because they were cards that family had given him. Little kids had given him things to just help him to celebrate.”

Workers at QuikTrip tell News 4 stories like his have been happening all too often at gas stations across the Metro.

Those workers say these thefts happen in a matter of minutes.

“Always stay aware and alert,” March says. “One of the things that the boys continually kept saying was we’re here all the time. We frequent this place. This is right down the street from our school. Everything was going to be okay.”

Richmond Heights Police Chief Gerry Rohr says his department first started seeing these thefts at the pumps about a year and a half ago.

Chief Rohr says part of that has to do with the keyless start many cars offer now.

“Somebody could actually hop in your car while you’re standing there at the pump with your key fob in your pocket, start that car and leave with it and they’re able to drive it as long as they want until they turn it off,” Chief Rohr says.

Chief Rohr says people should lock their doors, have their keys with them and just be more aware while getting gas.

“I am kind of getting tired of having to tell the law abiding citizen, the potential victim, you have to do this or else,” Chief Rohr says.

Chief Rohr says that means holding these criminals accountable.

“Our elected officials, those prosecutors at the county level, those prosecutors at the municipal level and the judges at those same levels, need to get on board with really hammering these criminals once they’re identified and brought to court,” Chief Rohr says.

It’s also happening at gas stations in St. Louis City.

SLMPD has been putting the mobile trailer cameras, along with flyers that have prevention tips on them, at different gas stations throughout the city.