Gas Station Owner Posts Warning

July 8, 2008

MACON COUNTY, Ala. (WXTX) - A Macon County gas station owner has found a unique way of preventing drivers from stealing his gas. He says the high cost of gas is causing more drive-offs and he's tired of it.

On a quiet country road, on Highway 199, sits T and K's Quick Stop.

The gas station and country store beckons travelers to fill up with gas and buy a coke on a hot summer day. Owner Terence Merchant says southern hospitality is the cornerstone of his store, and so is what some call southern justice. He's posted a sign on all of his gas pumps warning those who might try to get gas without paying.

"The sign says, pay before you pump and drive offs will be shot at. I have a gun inside -  yes - and I don't want to but I'm prepared to use it. I was outside and the guy disrespected me, by driving off so I'm just putting out a little warning," explained Merchant.

Since posting the signs about four months ago, Merchant hasn't had one gas drive off. Most of his customers appreciate what Merchant is trying to do and are happy to obey.

Our contacts in law enforcement explained to us, if a business owner shoots because his life is in danger, most grand jury's would consider that self defense. However, you get into a grey area, when you talk about shooting someone for driving off without paying for gas. Merchant hopes it'll never come to that.