JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. ( -- Thieves who pump gas and then drive off without paying for it are a problem in Jefferson County.

Amanda Creek is a regular customer at the Mobile On the Run convenience store in Cedar Hill and has witnessed these crimes firsthand.

“I've actually been in here when someone's driven off,” Creek said.

In 2018, the City of Arnold passed an ordinance requiring customers to prepay all gas purchases or pay at the pump. David Mangelsdorf is CEO of Home Service Oil Company which owns 9 convenient stores, one of which is in Arnold.

"At first we had some reservations about that but instantly, overnight, our drive-offs went from hundreds of dollars a month to basically zero," Mangelsdorf said.

Last year the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department investigated 210 gas thefts. The county council hopes to reduce that number to zero with an ordinance passed this week, which will require customers to prepay for all gas purchases at convenience stores in the unincorporated areas of the county.

District 3 Jefferson County Councilman Phil Hendrickson sponsored the legislation.

"Well I think it's going to save hundreds of hours of law enforcement time,” Hendrickson said.

A spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department said the department supports the rule and believes it’ll reduce deputies’ case load and keep more on the road to investigate more serious crimes. The new ordinance should take effect in about 40 days.

Copyright 2019 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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