Coon Rapids has become the first city in Minnesota to require people who buy gas within city limits to pay before they pump. The city council approved the ordinance Tuesday night in an effort to prevent people from driving away without paying for their fuel after the city saw about 500 such incidents last year.
City councilmember Scott Schulte said he expects other Minnesota cities to consider similar ordinances.
"The 500 crimes that happened in Coon Rapids in gas drive offs, they're not going to go away. They're going to go away from Coon Rapids, but these thieves are not going to quit stealing gas," he said. "So they'll wind up in our neighboring cities, whether it's Blaine or Andover. Wherever it is, they're going to wind up there. And those stations will either voluntarily go pre-pay, or their police chiefs will be recommending this to their councils as well."
Schulte owns a car repair shop which used to sell gas, but hasn't for years.
Some local gas station owners opposed the measure. They're concerned they'll lose money in convenience store sales and credit card fees if more customers pay at the pump. The ordinance takes effect Aug. 1.