Gas stations trying to avoid drive-offs

As gas prices go up, so do gas stations’ losses when people pump and drive away without paying.

Altoona-based Sheetz Inc., one of the region’s largest gas retailers, is preparing to launch a new program called Pump First to try to address the problem.

The program, slated to debut in Centre County on Sept. 1, will require cash-paying customers to register inside the store — a one-time process. The Pump First cards and brochures will be made available to customers one week before the activation date.

Once registered, customers will then receive a card that can be used to activate the gas pumps.

"The biggest reason we took that step was that people were stealing gas and we have to stop that," said Sheetz spokeswoman Monica Jones. "If you do try to steal, we can track you down."

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