Police raided the den of a gang of jet fuel theft thieves in HCMC on January 28. Photo credit: Phap luat TPHCM
Some employees of low-cost carrier Jetstar Pacific were among the seven arrested suspects in a massive fuel theft that may have targeted the airline for years, police said Thursday.
Ho Sy Tien, who was in charge of the investigation, said three tanker drivers of Jetstar were suspected of siphoning the Jet A1 fuel from the airline’s airplanes which were parked overnight or for more than six hours at Tan Son Nhat Airport.
The stealing often took place during maintenance checks between flights, in which fuel is required to be pumped out in small amounts for testing, the official said.
He quoted the drivers as confessing to police that they had stolen 600-900 liters per day for at least two years.
They transferred the fuel into 30-liter cans and hid them somewhere within the airport, before contacting Tran Van Suu, 42, who would send his people there to bring the fuel back to his place on mini trucks.
It is unclear how the trucks could pass the airport’s security.
Largest fuel theft
Suu told police that he bought the fuel from the drivers at VND350,000 (US$16) per can, and that he mixed it with diesel to resell it at VND400,000 ($18) per can.
He sold the mixture to traders in Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring provinces.
Police said they raided both Suu’s house and the place where the drivers allegedly hid stolen fuel on Tuesday, confiscating more than 5,800 liters of fuel.
It was the largest theft of jet fuel to be busted in recent years, according to Tien.
In a comment on the busted theft, a Jetstar Pacific representative told Thanh Nien that the airline is working with police on the investigation, and that the case did not affect the safety of its flights and its operations.
Jetstar’s fleet now includes Boeing and Airbus aircraft that can carry 126,917 liters and 23,860 liters of fuel, respectively, at maximum, according to the airline’s website.
More theft busted
Two employees, including one tanker driver, of Vietnam Air Petrol Company (Vinapco), were caught stealing fuel at Tan Son Nhat airport around Thursday midnight, news website Dan Tri quoted Dao Van Chuong, deputy chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam as saying.
He said they were busted by the airport’s security guards when they were stealing some fuel from a tanker that they were supposed to drive to the airport apron.
Their names have not been revealed.
The case had been handed over to police for further investigation, according to Chuong.
Last September, a court in the northern city of Hai Phong convicted 10 people of stealing thousands of liters of jet fuel also from Vinapco, the country’s biggest supplier of jet fuel.
Nine were jailed for as long as three and half years, while the other was given a suspended sentence of nine months.