The NATO fuel pipeline used to supply the Turkish army is an easy target for thieves as it is one of the longest pipelines stretching through the country with little security. However, a band of thieves, apparently blinded by greed, went the extra mile for an elaborate scheme to steal tons of fuel. Police found that four suspects, who were arrested on Tuesday, rented a car wash in the northwestern province of Kocaeli and dug a tunnel in the floor to reach the pipeline and steal the fuel. Their plot was discovered when locals alerted the police of a fuel odor coming from the car wash.
The police discovered a 10-meter (33 feet) tunnel on the floor of the car wash and a pipe going through the tunnel connected to the pipeline. The suspects are accused of stealing 50 tons of fuel worth TL 200,000 ($53,721). Security forces also seized a van containing fuel tanks apparently used for transferring stolen fuel.
Media outlets reported that four men rented the car wash in January and closed it for “renovation” during which they apparently dug the tunnel.
In 2012, seven suspects were captured in Istanbul after police discovered they had dug a tunnel to the pipeline from the floor of the first floor apartment they rented in the city’s Sultanbeyli district. The suspects had stolen nearly 6 tons of fuel in less than two months.