Gas Station Workers Regular Victims Of Teenage Crime

RIYADH, 8 March 2004 — A young Saudi motorist and two friends filled up his brand-new Toyota Camry at a gas station and sped away without paying. Another Saudi youth rammed the boot of a standing car, got down with three friends, snatched SR560 from the gas station attendant and sped away.

In another incident, a group of hooligans were detained by the police on charges of drunk driving and beating workers at a gas station.

These are just some of the complaints from gas station attendants in the capital, most of them Asians.

They told Arab News incidents of young drivers speeding away without paying are on the rise.

The young men also often abuse and beat the pump attendants. To add insult to injury, the workers then have to make up the loss out of their own pocket.

The workers are paid SR300 to SR700 per month for 12-hour day or night shifts. Bangladeshi worker Saleem Patauri, who works at Al-Teselat gas station, said the incidents happened especially at night.

Another attendant, who would only be identified as F.H.K., became a victim at the Aldress petrol station where he works.

“Recently, a group of hooligans came to the petrol station and manhandled me when I asked them to pay for the gas”. Some of them were children under 14, another worker said.

This became evident, when “one of them was later detained by the police without a driving license,” he said.

“What is worse is that our sponsor deducts the amount of stolen or snatched money from our salary,” said another attendant.

This happens even when workers give the license plate numbers and other details to the sponsor and the police.

According to a study, nearly 16 percent of drivers, especially youngsters, do not have a valid license, and many are driving stolen cars.

Most of the workers from the seven gasoline stations Arab News visited complained about the lack of security especially during night shifts. They also complain that their employers are rarely supportive.

Saleem said the offenders are mostly young Saudis between 12 and 25. The workers sometimes manage to catch the youngsters who try to run away, and they will leave their ID card or driving licenses as guarantees for payment.

“But they never come back,” Saleem said.

However, he was unable to show any ID cards and licenses to Arab News. But many young Asian attendants tell similar stories.

“The worst days for us are when Saudi Arabia wins a soccer match,” said Sherrif Kutty, and Indian worker.

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