Wisconsin city’s police no longer chasing gas scofflaws

Over in Appleton, Wisconsin, the police have decided they’ll no longer respond to complaints from gas stations that people have driven off without paying for the gas they just pumped into their vehicle.

In so doing, the police chief gets an entry in just under the wire for the most “interesting” (in a Minnesota way) rationale of the year.

“Oftentimes, when an employee called in a theft of gas, it turned out not to be a theft of anything,” Police Chief Derek Beiderwieden told the Post Crescent. “Really, they became civil matters of somebody taking something without paying for it.”

You know, like theft.

But the police say most of the drive-offs are people simply forgetting to pay and they’ve got better things to do than be debt collectors.

It’s 264 miles to Appleton, Twin Citians. It’s not worth driving there to get free tanks of gas.

  • David

    Earlier this year I drove off without paying. I swiped my card, started pumping the gas, and when it finished I drove off.

    Apparently the card swipe didn’t take, but the pump activated.

    They took my license plate number, but the employees knew me so they didn’t call the police. I paid the next day.

    I get the feeling this is the type of situation the police are talking about and it’s hardly theft.

  • John P.


    I think the swipe must have “taken” in order to start the pump. However, the pump must report the final bill when you hang it up. Something must have gone wrong at that point.

    Okay … that’s enough thinking about gas pump software design for now.

  • Jon


    From what I’ve seen of credit card authorization software, there is plenty to go wrong at any point.

    I know some fast food location will store credit card numbers in the event it can’t authorize them for any reason and just try to charge the amount later on, a loss of connectivity can result in multiple meals being given away for free on cards which wouldn’t authorize (gift cards with no money on them, cards that are over the limit, etc) but the owners of those establishments would rather give away a few meals given that the majority of cards authorize and work just fine later on.