VIDEO: Thief steals car from pump at Westbury gas station in string of thefts
A driver at a Westbury gas station had their high-end car stolen as he was filling up its tank Sunday morning, Nassau police say.
Police say the suspect stole the 2022 Mercedes, ripping the hose right off at the Shell station on Carmen Avenue. The incident was caught on surveillance cameras.
A 43-year-old man had just started filling up the car when the suspect in a grey sweatshirt got out of another car and into the Mercedes, then sped away, snapping off the gas pump nozzle in the process, according to police.
Police say the car thief sped away in the Mercedes with an accomplice's car behind him down Carmen Avenue until the Mercedes got into a minor accident at the intersection of Hempstead Turnpike. The suspect went west on Hempstead Turnpike after abandoning the car near Park Boulevard and the entrance of Eisenhower Park, officials say.
Nassau police say the gas station car theft was the fourth in the last month in the county.
A woman in Mineola had her Range Rover stolen while at the gas station on Monday. The car was later found in New Jersey.
On Dec. 20, an 80-year-old man's Mercedes was stolen from a station in Roslyn while he was filling up.
A land rover was stolen in Glen Head at a gas station on Dec. 13. In that incident, the thief dragged the motorist as he took off.
Police are now advising drivers at the pump to not leave your car running, take your keys with you and to lock your car.
"We have many high end cars in Nassau County so we are urging the community to never leave their keys in the cars," said Chief Christopher Ferro.
Nassau County police say vehicle theft is on the rise. In 2021, 561 cars were stolen in the county and in 2022, 968 were taken.
In the first week of the new year, there have already been 23 vehicles stolen in Nassau County.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin is frustrated with all the thefts in the county.
He says he is trying to find a solution to help motorists including possibly requiring full service gas attendants at all stations in the town.
"We have to act and we have to do it now," Clavin said.
Clavin, however, says turning all stations into full service one would force gas prices up.
Long Island Gas Retailers Association (LIGRA) Executive Director Chris Daniello says that a full service requirement would force prices up and discourage purchases inside the station's stores.
He says officials should enforce existing fire codes that require motorists to turn off engines when filling up or face a heavy fine.
"I think you would think real hard about leaving your car running knowing that a car friends of yours got a $500 ticket for leaving the car running and that would stop the problem almost instantly," Daniello said.
Ferro says most the cars stolen have keys left inside of the vehicle. He says many of the stolen cars were also running.
Nassau County police say newer cars could have electronic key fobs that only have to be near or in the car for it to operation.
They say it's important to remove them whenever you leave the vehicle.