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August 24, 2009

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Cops nab 9 suspects in oil theft case

NINE suspects have been detained for their involvement in more than 60 oil thefts worth about 3 million yuan (US$439,088), Baoshan District police said yesterday.

The suspects allegedly disguised themselves as waste oil collectors to fool factory janitors and sneaked into warehouses to steal everything from lubricants to diesel oil. They used modified minivans with stolen license plates to transport the stolen oil, police said.

Li Long and Zhang Li were the suspected leaders of the group that worked out of Baoshan's Liuhang area. Most of their accomplices lived in the same community, police said.

A machinery manufacturer in Baoshan's Luojing area called police at the end of June, claiming a batch of lubricant had been stolen and that each can was worth thousands of yuan.

Almost at the same time, police received a dozen similar reports with estimated losses of 10,000 yuan to 20,000 yuan in each case.

Janitors at these factories and warehouses in Baoshan, Minhang, Songjiang, Jiading and Qingpu districts said they met the waste oil collectors, who wore uniforms, about 4am or 5am and let them in thinking they were real collectors.

Police checked surveillance videos from the factories and found a white van had entered, with five or six people inside. Police said the van's license plate had been stolen from a car.

Police said there were more than a dozen members in the group and that they used three vehicles and four stolen license plates.

Police said they stole car plates at midnight and drove to factories in the early morning.

Using these clues, police discovered their "canteen" on Julian Road - a spot where they gathered before and after each theft.

Police seized the suspects on July 23, including an oil distributor on Qilianshan Road in Baoshan for selling the stolen oil.

Some suspects confessed they had engaged in the business for more than two years and Li was their master, police said.


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