Credits: FILE PHOTO.
TORONTO - The author of proposed legislation which would have required drivers to pay before filling up the tank says thousands of gas-and-dash thefts occur each year in Ontario.
Liberal MPP Mike Colle began compiling statistics on the crime after the death of two gas station attendants in the Toronto-area over the past two years.
"It is not a victimless crime ... the victims are the gas station attendant who risk their lives almost on a regular basis," Colle said. "We are at the point where one of the most dangerous jobs you can have in
Ontario is working at a gas station and in most cases people work for ten bucks an hour."
According to figures released Friday by Colle, there were at least 9,200 gas thefts in Ontario between 2009-10.
Not all police forces kept relevant statistics and it's believed that about half of all gas-and-dash episodes go unreported.
Last year, there were 1,581 thefts in Toronto, 766 in York Region, 601 in Ottawa and 286 each in Niagara and London.
York Regional Police Staff Sgt. Ed Villamere said the service is mailing out crime prevention tips to gas station attendants, but a pre-payment system would put a stop to the problem.
"It's a completely preventable crime," Villamere said. "We have in York region (in 2012) 916 incidents of drive-off gas thefts ... which is way too many."
Colle's private member's bill -- Jayesh's Law -- is named after Toronto gas station attendant Jayesh Prajapati, 44, who was dragged to his death in September while attempting to prevent the driver of an SUV from fleeing without paying.
The bill required gas station owners to install a pre-payment system, punished owners who docked staff pay for thefts and stripped the driver's licence from anyone convicted of a gas and dash.
Colle's bill never made it into law.
Colle said gas station owners should also improve the quality of their lighting and video surveillance, and oil companies should refuse to give gas to any station which is found to have punished its workers for thefts by cutting their pay or making them work for free.
The MPP wants the province to advise Crown attorneys to treat the crime seriously.
PC Leader Tim Hudak said he believes that individual businesses should be able to decide if they want a pre-payment system.
"Obviously, I'd make sure we have the law enforcement to punish those who break the law," Hudak said.
GAS AND DASH CRIMES (2011)
Ottawa - 601
Windsor - 74
York Region - 766
Toronto - 1581
Kingston - 170
Niagara - 286
Sudbury - 70
London - 286
Kawartha Lakes - 37
Chatham-Kent - 49
Durham - 235
Peel - 496
Simcoe - 245