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August 12, 2009

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Arrest over gas theft proves first for city

YANGPU District Prosecutor's Office has approved the first arrest involving a major theft of gas from city supply lines.

Operators of a restaurant allegedly used gas worth 370,000 yuan (US$54,135) in the past two years without paying a single bill, Shanghai Gas Group said.

The couple, Lin Qingrong and Jin Jiayun, were initially detained by Yangpu District police.

Gas company workers found Xinmeng Restaurant had installed gas pipelines without permission, which enabled the eatery to use gas without registration.

There were four ovens in the kitchen using stolen gas, the workers said.

Jin had posed as a dishwasher in the restaurant to hide from the gas company, they said.

The company called police after the restaurant ignored requests to dismantle the illegal pipes.

The restaurant was later found to have no business qualifications nor approval from commerce, health or tax departments.

Lin once worked fixing bicycles and pipelines, according to Yangpu police.

Although under law people face prosecution for stealing gas worth more than 2,000 yuan, it was often difficult to define the amount stolen, police said.

Suspects usually tore down gas meters which made it hard to calculate the amount used.

"Yangpu District Prosecutor's Office approved the arrest on the estimate according to the operations of the restaurant," said a police official.

The case is still under investigation by police and prosecutors.


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