- Owners ripped out petrol dispensing machines, put under renovation board
- The machines had chips that fooled customers by dispensing less fuel
- Massive petrol theft worth Rs 15 lakh a day uncovered by police across UP
A board claiming "Under Renovation" completed the effect, but it did not fool the Special Task Force that has come across dozens of "abandoned" pumps during their raids in the past few days.
The elite force, which tracks organized crime, soon found the machines and also clear signs that a chip that helped fool customers by giving them less fuel had been removed.
Last week, the Uttar Pradesh police uncovered the massive theft that worked on these remote-controlled chips - 1,000 of them in fact, installed in petrol pumps across the state. These facilitated the theft of petrol worth about Rs 15 lakh a day. There are 6,000 petrol stations across the state and the math is staggering.
Nine petrol stations have been sealed and 23 people have been arrested, including four owners.
According to police officers investigating the theft, upto 100 ml had been stolen to each litre.
At the Standard Petrol Pump on the outskirts of Lucknow, the team found more evidence of chips removed in a hurry. "In our past experience on raids in seven petrol pumps, a chip is inserted into these mother boards that quickens the pulse rate for fuel dispensing using these wires...those chips seem to have been removed in a rush," said the officer.
What the chip means for the consumer is this - if one asks for a litre of petrol, a remote-controlled chip installed inside the fuel dispensing machine will ensure that about 50 - 100 ml less petrol comes out even though the readings on the machine will be perfect.
In Lucknow's Thakurganj, the manager and the staff tried to escape when they realized that a raid team was on its way. After hours of searching, three chips and remote controls were found. "...I used to switch on the remote myself each morning. When there were checks by the oil company, the remotes were switched off," said Hari Kishen Verma, the manager. But he insisted that his petrol pump is more honest than most, since only three of 24 nozzles were controlled by the chip.
"This is an organised racket and we have to get to the bottom of this. The procedure of inserting these chips inside the machines is complicated. We have arrested one person so far, an electrician who installed such chips inside many machines in Lucknow," Dr Chaturvedi said.