Liberal MPP Mike Colle Re-Introduces Jayesh’s Law (Worker Safety at Service Stations) Bill 124

Update: see previous post – September 22, 2012 JAYESH’S LAW (WORKER SAFETY AT SERVICE STATIONS), 2012

Jayesh Prajapati with his wife Vaishal and only son, Rishabh

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Ontario should require drivers to pay upfront before buying gasoline to stop so-called “gas and dash” thefts that have claimed the lives of gas station attendants, Liberal backbencher Mike Colle said Tuesday.

His private member’s bill also calls for suspending the drivers’ licences of those convicted of gas thefts and fines for employers who force attendants to pay for the stolen gas out of their wages — a practice Colle called a “dirty little secret.”

If passed, the measures could better protect gas station attendants who feel compelled to go after the thieves, he said.

“There is no way in God’s earth that someone making $10 an hour should have to go to work every day wondering if they’re going to encounter one of these gas thieves and wondering whether their lives are going to be at risk,” Colle said.

He re-introduced the bill Tuesday, which was initially put forward last year after 44-year-old gas attendant Jayesh Prajapati was killed when he tried to stop a man from driving away without paying his $112.85 bill.

His widow, Vaishali, and 12-year-old son Rishabh, joined Colle at the legislature to support the bill.

“I lost Jayesh, who was everything to me, and I pray that no one else is put through the situation I went through,” Vaishali Prajapati said, wiping away tears after reading the statement.

A warrant has been issued for Max Edwin Tutiven in connection with Prajapati’s death and other gas-and-dash thefts, but he’s still at large, Colle said.

“I just think we need to start somewhere with this legislation,” he said.

“Right now, the GTA is basically a free-for-all for these criminals and they know there are no consequences.”

There were about 5,000 gas-and-dash thefts reported last year in the Greater Toronto Area, but police believe thousands more aren’t reported, he said. They tend to spike when gas prices go up.

The measures proposed in his bill could also cut down on the amount of time police spend investigating such thefts, Colle said.

Identifying thieves can be difficult because many of them use stolen plates and security cameras don’t always provide clear images, he said. If a case actually gets to court, the charges are often dropped due to insufficient evidence, or the sentences are light.

“As the police have said very categorically, it is a huge waste of police resources,” Colle said.

York Region Police plan to launch online reporting of gas thefts on Monday, said Staff Sgt. Edmond Villamere.

“If we had the ‘pay before you pump’ — which is the key to all this — it’s a completely preventable crime and we could reduce all these instances to near zero,” he said.

In British Columbia, prepayment has significantly cut down on gas-and-dash thefts, Colle said. Prepayment can be made with a debit card, credit card or cash.

Colle said he’s changed the bill slightly to allow municipalities to opt out of mandatory prepayment in response to opposition from some rural communities.

Private member’s bills rarely become law without the backing of the government. But Colle said he’s received a lot of support from the Liberal caucus, as well as some New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives.

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One thoughtful comment

  1. This has too many issues.

    If it is legal to charge attendants for any thefts, and if this is bad, change that law, not simple commerce. Attendants can’t stop theft, or they can be required to stop theft and armed & trained. What they’re looking for is “security guard”.

    If theft is a continual problem (it is), and it is unacceptable, then mandate all commerce require pre-payment. There are disadvantages (like trust issues), but it makes budgeting easier. I’m sure industries don’t appreciate discriminatory regulations. I hate pre-paying, and don’t use gas stations requiring it, so they don’t profit. Still, stations like getting money first, and then dispensing product, so I question the motivation behind the legislation.

    If security measures are broken, fix the broken security measures — invalid reason.

    Anyone who rushes to put their lone unarmed self between a criminal in a moving vehicle and escape is a fool. The Prajapati story is tragic, and he had valid economic reasons, but now his family lacks the economic and loving support of a father and husband. Punishing attendants for theft beyond control is stupid, but mistakes also kill.

    Collie is right, death by “gas-and-dash” is insane and uncivilized. Address the cause of death, the ideas behind the death, or law enforcement, but don’t mandate a corporation-favouring pay-and-hope model of commerce on all consumers.

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