A private members' bill in honour of a gas station attendant who died trying to stop a gas-and-dash theft, and aimed at protecting others like him, is being reintroduced in the Ontario legislature.
The bill, called Jayesh's Law, died on the order paper last year when the Ontario legislature was prorogued in October.
Liberal MPP Mike Colle said he will be reintroducing the bill — which calls for a mandatory prepayment system at gas stations, stiff penalties for gas station owners who force attendants to pay for stolen gas, and license suspensions for convicted gas thieves.
"There is no way on God’s earth that someone making $10 an hour should have to go to work every day, wondering if they are going to encounter one of these gas thieves and wondering whether their lives are going to be at risk," Colle told reporters on Tuesday.
Jayesh Prajapati, 44, died last September while trying to stop a male suspect from driving off without paying at a Toronto gas station.
Prajapati was struck and dragged by an SUV driven by the suspect, who had filled his tank up with $112 worth of gas then fled without paying.
In the wake of his death, his family members argued for a law in his honour that would force drivers to pay before pumping.
10,000 gas-and-dash thefts in GTA last year
On Tuesday, Colle said statistics show that there were about 5,000 so-called gas-and-dash incidents that happened in the Greater Toronto Area, last year.
However, he estimates that only half of these gas-and-dash incidents are reported, and the figure is close to 10,000.
"This is not a victimless crime. You're not stealing gas from the oil companies, you are not hurting them," he said. "What you are doing is basically putting at risk, usually, the gas station attendant who sometimes tries to apprehend the gas theft."
In some cases, these are habitual gas thieves, he said.
Phony plates are often used by these thieves, he added. If these thefts are reported and they do make its way through the court system, charges are often dropped because of insufficient evidence, Colle added.
The quality of the cameras at these stations are often not high enough to capture the licence plates.
Meanwhile, there are gas station operators illegally forcing their attendants to pay for the stolen gas out of their wages.
For those working for minimum wage, that could be half their wages, Colle said.
Colle has heard from attendants that this practice takes place, but many are newcomers or students and are afraid to come forward, he said.