‘Gas and dash’ victim was worried about losing wages: friend

Prajapati, 44, was killed Saturday evening after attempting to stop a driver from fleeing without paying a $112 gas bill. Police said Prajapati was struck by the vehicle and dragged down the street.

CTV Toronto
September 18, 2012

‘Gas and dash’ victim was worried about losing wages: friend

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In this undated photo Jayesh Prajapati is seen with his wife and son. Prajapati died in Toronto after trying to stop a driver from fleeing from a gas station with stolen gas on Sept. 15, 2012. (Photo courtesy: Prajapati family friend)

The friends and family of a gas station attendant who died in an alleged ‘gas and dash’ incident say the employee tried to stop the thief because he didn’t want to have his wages docked – an allegation the station owners deny.

Those who knew Jayesh Prajapati allege the station attendant had his wages docked before when customers had stolen gas, which explains why he tried to stop a driver from leaving the station grounds without paying.

Prajapati, 44, was killed Saturday evening after attempting to stop a driver from fleeing without paying a $112 gas bill. Police said Prajapati was struck by the vehicle and dragged down the street.

Toronto police are searching for a suspect in the death and say the man may have fled to Montreal.

“He was under some mental pressure, he wanted to save his day’s wages and that’s why he ran after the guy,” said the victim’s brother-in-law Hemant Kumar.

But the station’s management says there are no policies in place that dock wages from station employees when gas is stolen on their watch.

“It’s not true. We have policies in place and one of the main policy in place is never to run after vehicles,” said owner Max Alibhai.

However, Prajapati’s friends insist that though not official, the practice had happened to the attendant before.

“Over a period of time he just accepted this thing as a way of life if you want to work at a gas station,” said family friend Apurva Patel. “It is not well defined policy kind of thing, it is a mutual understanding between the gas station employee and the retail owner.”

Prajapati had come to Canada with his family from India in 2006. He worked as a chemist before, but couldn’t find work in his field in Canada.

He started working at the Shell gas station in 2009.

Prajapati’s wife told CTV Toronto she doesn’t know how she can go on without her husband.

“How will me and my son, … how will I live without him … it’s so difficult for me and my son,” said a distraught Vaishali Prajapati.

Labour group launches hotline for gas station workers
The Ontario Federation of Labour says it believes the illegal practice of docking worker wages for gas theft may have played a role in the death of a Toronto station attendant over the weekend.

Sid Ryan, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, announced on Tuesday the launch of a hotline for gas station workers who may be forced to cover the cost of stolen gasoline. Anyone with tips is invited to call 1-800-668-9138.

“We believe that at far too many gas stations in Ontario, after a thief drives off with stolen gas, the company turns around and steals the money back from vulnerable workers,” Ryan said in a statement.

“This practice puts workers’ lives at risk and could have played a role in the death of an innocent gas station attendant. We want anyone with information on gas stations ripping off employees to call our anonymous hotline to help identify bad bosses and offending companies.”

Ryan said the Employment Standards Act prohibits employers from deducting the cost of theft from wages. He said oil companies have a responsibility to ensure franchise owners aren’t exploiting workers.

Shell Canada has said it does not require workers to cover the cost of stolen items and stating that employee safety is a top concern.

“Shell’s top priority is the safety of staff and customers, and under no circumstances are sales associates or any other retail employee to intervene during criminal activity,” said a statement released this week.

Police issue warrant for suspect
Meanwhile Toronto police have issued a warrant for the arrest of 39-year-old Max Edwin Tutiven on the charge of second-degree murder and say he may have fled to Montreal.

“We are requesting the public’s assistance in determining the location of Mr. Tutiven and the vehicle that dragged Mr. Prajapati’s body,” Det. Kate Beveridge told a press conference on Monday.

“He does have associates in Montreal. And there is currently a warrant before the courts in Montreal,” she said, adding that he is also wanted in Toronto on unrelated charges.

Tutiven is wanted on the charge of second-degree murder. He is described as a white male with a dark complexion, about 5’5” and weighing between 220 and 230 pounds.

Tutiven is believed to be driving a 2000-2003 silver or beige four-door Isuzu Rodeo, which may have stolen plates attached to it.

Premier Dalton McGuinty said this week he would look into ways to make workplaces safer for station attendants.

Last year, a 62-year-old Petro-Canada employee in Mississauga died after confronting a man attempting to leave the station without paying, a crime colloquially referred to as a “gas and dash.” A 22-year-old man was later charged in the death and theft of $75 worth of gas.

The deadly cases have prompted some to call for mandatory pre-payment at all gas stations, similar to systems already in place in British Columbia and in parts of the U.S.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Zuraidah Alman

Comments

1. Dav Sep. 18, 2012
Employers docking pay like that happens with dinning and dashing It is illegal to dock wages according to employment standards. This hotline should include other businesses as well. By the way employment standards has a hotline too

2. Dave Sep. 18, 2012
My condolences to the family & his community. The "U.S." style law needs to go into effect immediately. I do believe it is also law in B.C. because of these same unfortunate circumstances. As for deducting the amount from employees, sure it's happening.

3. Reason Sep. 18, 2012
To all the commentators. Neither gas companies policies nor employees caused the death. A self serving criminal did.

4. PissedCanuck Sep. 18, 2012
The majority of gas stations in the US require a credit card to be swiped first at the pumps or the driver to tell the attendant how much gas they need. We need to have that same system here, but would require all gas stations to have credit card readers at the pumps, which some still do not have.

5. Bill from Whitby Sep. 18, 2012
Why not just go the US style a pay before you fill up? A number of people use some kind of plastic anyways so it would only inconvenience a few. It sucks but that is life and if it saves 1 life then it is worth it.

6. John Trevelis Sep. 18, 2012
there goes Sid Ryan again looking to put the community in an uproar. I don't think Shell or any of the other gas stations have this rule. I work at a Petro Can and I can assure you this is not the case. Why do unions have to get involved with this type of nonsense when emotions are raw?? Sid, send flowers or your respect to the children and widow of this poor man instead of causing feelings of anxiety.

7. Wanda Sep. 18, 2012
Here was a man trying to make a living and this piece of trash comes along, and for $100, takes him from his family. What kind of low life scum does something like that and then leaves the man lying on the ground to die? Unfortunately, with our bleed heart society, our justice system is a joke, and there will be no justice for this victim or his family. My condolences to his family.

8. Charlie Sep. 18, 2012
Sadly and a great thanks to our judges and the judiciary, Canada has become a land where human life, especially of new immigrants who toil in low paying jobs, are totally worthless. The victim had a wife and kid, who are now left to fend for themselves. A second degree murder charge is nothing. With the help from the judges, this crap will be out in no time, even if he gets time in the first place. He should be mandated to support this family financially until the children are eighteen.

9. Whitetailer Sep. 18, 2012
Man dies for a hundred bucks of gas. Our Justice System must feel so proud. This POS will get a Conditional Sentence of nothing. All the up and comers will do what they want for their hundred bucks, there are no consequences that deter such activity.

http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/gas-and-dash-victim-was-worried-about-losing-wages-friend-1.961012


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