'Hot Tapping' Diesel Theft Gang Jailed At Swansea Crown Court

A crime gang has been jailed for breaking into one of Britain's biggest underground oil pipelines in Pembrokeshire.

The gang targeted the major oil pipelines running from giant refineries at Milford Haven, West Wales, to supply the rest of the UK.

The three men used a "hot tapping" method of extraction, drilling directly into the pipeline near Martletwy in Pembrokeshire to steal the diesel.

Criminals Iulian Neacsu, 21, Nicolae Petre, 36, and Constantin Dumitrescu, 31, chose a remote location near the sleepy village of Martletwy in Pembrokeshire, to break into the pipe. 

The gang plugged the pipeline off to stop it from leaking and used specialist suction equipment to pump it into huge containers.

But they set off an internal alarm as the pressure dropped in the pipeline - and one blundering gang member dropped a receipt at the crime scene. 

They were then tracked down by their car number plate and arrested 150 miles away as they tried to get away with 2,000 litres of diesel. 

Detective Sergeant Dale Scriven said: "We had to work fast time in this investigation to catch the offenders before they were able to disappear from our radar.

"A golden nugget was the finding of the receipt at the scene of the crime, along with other items of forensic interest.

"Some excellent Automated Number Plate Recognition work was carried out, which allowed us to track the offenders' vehicle as they attempted to get away from the scene.

"By tracking the car's movements and working with our neighbouring police forces, we were then able to stop the car on the A483 in Llanymynech and make the arrests.

"This is a significant outcome for Dyfed-Powys Police and for Wales. Not only were we able to secure convictions for going equipped, but for damage and theft from the pipeline.

"I hope this delivers a clear strong message to anyone else involved in this type of criminality not to come to Dyfed-Powys. We are not an easy option and we will follow all lines of enquiry to catch offenders."

Romania-born Neacsu, of Barking, London, admitted criminal damage and theft at Swansea Crown Court and was jailed for 21 months. 

Petre and Dumitrescu, both of Northampton,  admitted going equipped for theft. Each was jailef or nine months.

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