A Smithtown man fled without paying for gas 16 times before his final effort Monday at a St. James Wave station, police said.
Walter C. Amerbach, 21, was charged Wednesday with petty larceny by Suffolk police, not only for the most recent incident Monday after having his SUV filled up but the 16 earlier incidents in the past four months.
When caught after Monday's caper, Amerbach told the officers who stopped him that he felt guilty and planned to turn himself in, police said. They were skeptical.
"He said he felt bad about it," Sgt. Michael Alfano said. "But he kept doing it. This does happen occasionally, but we haven't seen too many people that have done it as many times as he has."
Amerbach pulled into the Wave Gas Station on Lake Avenue Monday night, police said, and asked the attendant to fill the tank of his 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee. When the tank was filled and the nozzle removed, Amerbach drove off, police said.
The gas taken each time had a value ranging from about $50 to about $70 for a total somewhere between $700 and $1,000, police said.
A description of the car and license plate was broadcast by authorities after the Wave Station incident, police said, and Amerbach and his vehicle were found outside the Planet Fitness gym in Bay Shore.
Alfano said Amerbach was not suspected of selling the gasoline. "Basically, he said he didn't have a job, and needed the gas to get around."
Amerbach was scheduled for arraignment Thursday in First District Court, Central Islip.
With John Valenti