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November 14, 2009

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Gas-theft prosecution proves city first

A COUPLE yesterday received a three-year suspended jail term in a Shanghai court for stealing 83,000 yuan (US$12,157) worth of gas to run their restaurant.

The Yangpu District People's Court heard the city's first case where individuals faced criminal prosecution for stealing gas.

The two were ordered to pay for all the stolen gas and were each fined 20,000 yuan.

The couple pleaded guilty yesterday, saying they were just trying to get things on the cheap.

Jin Jiayun, a 29-year-old woman from Anhui Province, took over an unlicensed small restaurant on Shuangyang Road from her sister in October 2008.

She began operating the restaurant, named Xinmeng, with her husband, Lin Qingrong, 27, a Jiangsu Province native, without approval from the city's market watchdog.

Jin asked a gas company to install gas pipes in the restaurant but did not pay all fees required. The couple then hired a private team to install pipes and used the ensuing "free" gas for the restaurant, the court heard.

"I didn't think I would be caught because my sister also evaded gas payments this way and was never apprehended," Jin told the court.

The gas company uncovered the theft in March and removed the illicit pipes.

The couple were ordered to pay official pipeline installations. In April, while they were waiting for pipe installation by the company, they installed more illegal gas pipes themselves.

"We thought we would suffer too big a loss if we stopped our business while waiting for official installation," Jin said.

The illegal gas usage was halted again on July 15 when the company reported the matter to police.


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