CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Panic buying has set in, and gas stations all over the Carolinas are placing bags over their pumps as they run out of fuel.
"We understand the frustration and continue to encourage everyone to be patient," CMPD tweeted. "Only purchase the amount of fuel you need to ensure there is enough resources for others in our community."
According to GasBuddy's fuel tracker on Wednesday morning, 71% of stations in the Charlotte metro area are without gasoline.
"We have not experienced any widespread crime-related issues associated with the shortage," CMPD tweeted. "Patrol officers have been instructed to conduct consistent zone checks in response areas with gas stations to ensure operations are running as smoothly as possible."
There have already been instances of gas rage in the state, though. A video posted to social media from a Marathon gas station in Knightdale, NC captured a person reportedly trying to cut a line at the gas station. It ultimately led to a fight between a man and a woman, who spit at each other.
“A lot of people are very frustrated, there's a lot of hoarding going on, a lot of long lines," CMPD captain Brad Koch said.
Koch said it’s almost déjà vu.
“Similarly to last year at the beginning of the pandemic when all the stores were out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer,” Koch said.
Koch said this is more serious than wiping and cleaning, though, because squad cars need gas too.
“We’re waiting in lines with people and utilizing the same avenues that our citizens are utilizing,” Koch stressed.
Koch said while it may be difficult to find gas, they are responding to all 911 calls and haven’t been impacted by the shortage yet.
“In extreme circumstances, there is a public safety reserve, emergency reserve that we can tap,” Koch said.
Koch asked people not to make the problem worse than necessary.
“Limit nonessential travel," Koch added. "If you do not have to come out and go out, please do not."
Koch said while CMPD is still responding to all calls, people should consider alternative options when their presence is not needed.
"If it is a non-emergency you do have the opportunity to file a report online or calling 3-1-1," Koch said.
While it is not illegal to hoard gas in North Carolina, it is illegal to price gouge. CMPD said it's important for residents to report any price gouging to the department.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency earlier this week to help ensure adequate fuel supplies could be delivered. As part of that state of emergency, North Carolina's price gouging law went into effect. This prohibits businesses from overcharging during times of crisis.
“North Carolina’s price gouging law is in effect – please let my office know if businesses or people might be trying to profit off this situation so we can hold them accountable,” Attorney General Josh Stein said.
How to report price gouging in North Carolina
You can report high gas prices or price gouging by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint with the NCDOJ’s office. The office will then review the complaints closely and possibly take action against a business.
How to report price gouging in South Carolina
South Carolina offers multiple ways to report price gouging. Consumers can email any example of overcharging to email@example.com. Suspected price gouging can also be reported at this link, or you can call 803-733-3953.
CMPD also encouraged people to avoid all non-essential travel and to check on elderly neighbors to see if they need anything.
At this time, CMPD said the gas shortage isn't limiting how many emergencies they're responding to, and the department has a fuel reserve if it comes to that point. But in the meantime, they mentioned their officers are waiting in the same long lines for gas like everyone else.