Lawmaker Wants to Dump Prepay at Pump Ordinances

Stations should require it themselves, Viers says

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- A Grand Strand lawmaker wants the South Carolina to keep local governments from passing laws requiring customers to pay for gasoline before they pump, reported the Associated Press.

Instead of pushing cities for a new law, gas stations should simply require the practice themselves, said State Representative Thad Viers (R).

Viers filed his bill last Thursday in response to a proposed ordinance in Myrtle Beach, as reported in CSP Daily News, requiring customers to pay before they pump. Viers' bill has nine [image-nocss] co-sponsors, but was filed so late it has no chance of passing before the legislature adjourns June 2.

Mount Pleasant passed a prepay law last year. The Lexington County towns of Chapin and Lexington rejected similar proposals. Theft investigations in Mount Pleasant dropped 10% in the month after its ordinance went on the books, Town Administrator Mac Burdette said.

The councilperson who introduced the prepay ordinance in Myrtle Beach said it would help make better use of police time. Our police are losing countless man-hours on a crime that we can eliminate with one vote, Councilman Randal Wallace said. We're trying to put police in the neighborhoods with some serious crime problems, and we're trying to balance the budget.

The problem is especially bad in Myrtle Beach because of the large number of tourists, Wallace said. Myrtle Beach police received 230 calls of gasoline thefts from January to March of this year and only one was solved, officer Kim Poirier said.

Intentionally leaving a station without paying is a misdemeanor in South Carolina and can carry a fine of $500 and up to 30 days in jail along with suspension of an offender's driver's license.