The Gujarat Police is now cracking down on a syndicate of drivers-cleaners and gangs of thieves in different cities which has been waylaying tanker vehicles carrying industrial chemicals from factories and stealing them to later sell them in black market.
Police believe that after the crackdown on Sandeep Gupta alias Sandy led gang earlier this year which was allegedly involved in stealing of crude oil worth Rs 300 crore by puncturing pipelines across India, especially in cities of Gujarat and Rajasthan, this is a new kind of modus operandi of theft of chemicals adopted by such gangs.
“For these kind of thefts, the gangs have formed a syndicate with the drivers and cleaners who usually rent their vehicles for transportation of goods from a number of factories. The gangs know which route the tankers will take and they give instructions to the drivers to park their vehicles at remote areas for usually half an hour wherein the theft takes place. They then sell the chemicals to industries at a cheaper rate in the black market,” said a senior official of Gujarat Police.
In the past ten days, three gangs involved in theft of chemicals being shipped in tanker vehicles from factories have been busted by the state monitoring cell and ‘Gujarat CID Crime and Railways’ of Gujarat Police in Surendranagar, Navsari and Bharuch and various industrial chemicals worth over Rs 1 crore have been seized. A total of 19 persons involved in the racket including several truck drivers and cleaners have been arrested in the case. Police said that the vehicles were waylaid on their transit with the connivance of the vehicles’ drivers and cleaners who were also allegedly paid a cut by the thieving gangs.
On May 26, the state monitoring cell team conducted two simultaneous raids at hideouts in Surendranagar and Dahej GIDC of Bharuch. According to police, as the raiding team reached a godown near Malwa Punjab Hotel in Dahej GIDC area, they found six tankers parked inside and over 20 persons involved in theft of chemicals from them. Similarly, in Surendranagar, the police team found two tankers parked at an open space area at the Sayala-Chotila state highway road, while a gang was involved in chemical theft. In total, 14 persons were arrested while police seized eight tanker vehicles with Rs 83 lakh worth of chemicals. A number of minors were also found at the raiding spot, who were allegedly hired by the accused gang. The Police found two ringleaders Raviraj Patgir and Bakul Patel from the two gangs involved in such acts for the past two-three years.
On June 2, a State CID Crime team raided an open space area near Thala village on the Navsari highway in Surat and arrested five persons allegedly found stealing Benzene chemical from a tanker. According to police, the tanker vehicle had left from Reliance company factory in Hazira of Surat and after the gang had contacted the driver of the vehicle, it was turned towards an open space where theft was going on. According to police, over 24,000 litres of Benzene chemical worth Rs 23 lakh were seized in the raid.
Police said that the modus operandi of the gangs was to steal small quantities of chemicals from a large number of tanker vehicles so that their theft remains under radar and not flagged by the industries for any discrepancies.
S S Raghuvanshi, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Gujarat CID Crime and Railways said, “Usually a tanker carries 17,000 litres of chemicals so the gangs target only 25-30 litres from each tanker because companies usually ignore miniscule loss of goods during transportation. The gangs target tankers’ sequences wherein 15-20 vehicles come out of factories for their shipping journey together.