The police have recovered 350 cylinders of cooking gas, the theft of which from the agencies had added to the shortage of this domestic fuel.
A group of seven men is under arrest on a charge of stealing this lot of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Bathinda, Mansa, Sangrur and Barnala districts of the Malwa region of Punjab over the past six months, by raiding more than 15 warehouses.
The stolen fuel was loaded in two modified Mahindra Bolero jeeps and a truck, and the police hope to recover more cylinders from the Doaba region where some of the suspects had sold these.
The LPG thieves had stolen 24 cylinders from Barnala, 25 each from Bareta and Jhunir towns of Mansa district, 98 from Joga tehsil of Mansa, 24 from Cheema Mandi, 40 each from Bathinda and Sunam, 62 from Mansa Khurd, and 35 from Dhanaula.
Avtar Singh of Jalandhar; Rakesh Kumar, Sukhbir Singh Kaka, and Santosh Kumar Tinku of Mansa; Makkhan Singh, Sonni, and Jagmail Singh of Sangrur; and Tony Garg of Bathinda are the suspects under arrest. The prime suspect, Avtar Singh Taari, was caught a few weeks ago in Sangrur on a charge of stealing a car but then it had not come out that his gang also stole cooking-gas cylinders.
Superintendent of police (headquarters) Kuldip Kumar Sharma and SP (detective) Puskar Sandal led the special teams that cracked the case, senior superintendent of police Narinder Bhargav has said. Most of the suspects have criminal history, and two more are on the run.
The gang operated at night and took away the loot in modified Mahindra Bolero jeeps fitted with rubber carpets to absorb the noise of cylinders being loaded. It would scout the area around the targeted warehouse and break into it at dark with the help of gas cutters. The jeeps were parked at a distance from the warehouse to make it quicker to escape, if need be.