Hyderabad: In what must rank as one of the more unique crimes, a gang of 12 persons dug a tunnel and stole over 1.3 lakh litres of diesel from the Indian Oil Corporation-Bharat Petroleum pipeline on the outskirts of the city. The diesel was sold at different places in the state.
The gang headed by Hafeez Aziz Chowdari, 42, a native of Mumbra in Thane, had taken a plot of land on rent from where the gang members dug a tunnel to the pipeline.
Rachakonda police arrested four persons and recovered Rs 90 lakh cash, while eight other persons are at large.
The theft came to light in the first week of December when officials noticed that the amount of diesel being received at the IOCL centre in Cherlapally was less than what was being supplied from the BP centre at Ghatkesar.
After an evaluation, officials found that the shortfall amounted to 1,30,601 kilolitres (KL) of diesel. On inspection, officials found that a hole had been bored into the pipeline and fuel was being pilfered at a spot between Cherlapally and Ghatkesar. Officials lodged a complaint with the Keesara police.
The police registered a case under IPC Section 379 (imprisonment for theft) and Section 15 (2) of Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines Act (damaging pipeline) and started a probe.
The investigation revealed that some persons had taken an open plot of land on rent by telling the owner that they would use it as a dumping yard, They fenced off the land and erected metal sheets to hide the goings-on, Rachakonda police commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat said.
Apart from Chowdari of Mumbra, the central Crime Station (Malkajgiri) apprehended B. Srinivasulu, 32, an agriculturist who invested `15 lakh to execute the fraud, Mohd Abdul Abrar of Bahadurpura, and M. Jayakrishna, 39, of Warangal, owner of the tanker.
Eight others – Jiyahul Chand Shaik, Sunil Madivar, Vasu of Mumbai, R. Rambali Yadav, Suresh Kumar Prajapathi and Amzad Khan of Mumbai, V. Srikanth of Warangal and Naresh Reddy of Suryapet were yet to apprehended.
Mr Bhagwat said Hafeez, Jiyahul, Abrar and Srinivas had become friends when they were in a Mumbai jail and hatched the plan to steal diesel from the pipeline. In all, BP lost 84,365 KL of diesel and IOCL 46,236 KL.
The diesel was sold at Warangal, Bachupally, Burgula, Koyalkonda and Dharmabad and in Maharashtra. The police recovered `90.4 lakh cash from the gang, a tanker, an SUV, a two-wheeler and a phone purchased with the money earned by selling diesel.