MPP introduces bill to fight gas-and-dash theft

A private member's bill was introduced Thursday in an effort to curb gas-and-dash incidents following the death of a Toronto gas attendant.

Liberal MPP Mike Colle introduced a private member's bill Thursday in an effort to curb gas-and-dash incidents following the death of a Toronto gas attendant.

Jayesh Prajapati, 44, died Saturday night after a motorist filled up an SUV with $112 worth of gas and left the Shell station without paying, hitting the attendant with the vehicle.

Toronto police have released this photo of Max Edwin Tutiven, who is being sought on a charge of second-degree murder. (Toronto Police Service)

The bill calls for a mandatory prepayment system at gas stations; stiff penalties for gas station owners who force attendants to pay for stolen gas and licence suspensions for convicted gas thieves.

Colle said he hopes "Jayesh's Law" will pass so that something "positive" can come out of this tragedy.

"We are trying to let people know that perhaps out of this horrific death, there might be an opportunity to prevent future deaths of this kind," he told a news conference at the Ontario legislature. "So out of an awful evil, might come some good."

The Liberal backbencher said similar legislation already exists in other provinces and in the U.S.

Members of Prajapati's family, including his sister, brother-in-law and 11-year-old son also attended the news conference. 

"Jayesh was a hardworking family man who was so proud when he became a Canadian citizen and he loved Canada," said his sister Vipa Prajapati. "I hope that there is some good that can come out of Jayesh's death."

She said the family wholeheartedly supports the bill.   

"We hope the law will pass so that other gas station attendants do not have to lose their lives," she said.

A trust fund has also been set up for the victim's family.

Police are urging Max Edwin Tutiven, 39, of Toronto, to turn himself in to face a charge of second-degree murder in connection with Prajapati's death.

The Ministry of Labour is investigating the Shell gas station where the incident took place. Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey said Wednesday her office has started a health and safety investigation, and also wants to know if there were any employment standards violations at the station.

Shell Canada has said company rules forbid workers from intervening in gas-and-dash incidents, and employees are trained to watch for suspicious activity so they can help police in an investigation.