Police have busted an inter-state gang of diesel thieves at Kannad in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district and arrested 14 of its members, an official has said.
Four trucks, around 40 containers filled with diesel, cash and other things, collectively worth over Rs 98 lakh, were seized during the operation conducted on February 17, the police official said.
"The action was taken based on a complaint lodged in Chikalthana police station in the district on February 16, which said that 3,480 litres of diesel had been stolen from a petrol pump in Chitegaon," district Superintendent of Police (SP) Mokshada Patil told reporters on Friday.
The local crime branch received information that a gang from Maharashtra's Osmanabad district was involved in this, she said.
The police came to know that these gang members would fill trucks with sand from the Tapi district of Gujarat and sell it in Osmanabad, she said.
"These gang members used to make a halt at different petrol pumps at night and steal diesel from underground tanks using hand-pumps. After using the stolen diesel for their personal use, they used to sell the remaining fuel to other truck drivers at a cheaper rate," Patil added.
Following a tip-off, the police set up a check-point in Shivrai area of Kannad on NH-52.
While checking the trucks coming from Gujarat, police held three such vehicles that were found carrying sand. Around 40 containers, each filled with 35 to 40 litres of diesel, were also found in these trucks, the SP said, adding that 12 persons travelling in the trucks were held.
"During their interrogation, the accused admitted that they had stolen the diesel from a pump at Chitegaon. The accused are residents of Osmanabad district," she said.
The truck drivers held in Kannad told the police that another such vehicle was standing at Zalta Phata in Aurangabad to buy diesel from them, following which it was seized and two more persons were arrested.
"Police have seized four trucks, 1,540 litres of diesel, three hand pumps along with a 220-feet pipe, cash of Rs 42,700 and eight mobile handsets from these fourteen people. The seized material is collectively worth Rs 98.49 lakh," another official said.
Similar offences had been registered in Gujarat, Karnataka and other parts of Maharashtra, Patil said, adding, "The accused have admitted that they were involved in 36 offences of diesel theft."
This gang had been stealing diesel for the last five years, she added.