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Thieves hack pumps remotely to steal €150,000-worth of petrol, say police

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By Pauline Bock  with AFP
Thieves hack pumps remotely to steal €150,000-worth of petrol, say police
Copyright  REUTERS/Kham - RC1AD5B6B260/File Photo

Five people suspected to have stolen nearly 120,000 litres of petrol in French petrol stations were arrested near Paris on Wednesday, police said.

Between 2017 and 2018, thousands of litres of petrol disappeared from Total stations in Seine-Saint-Denis and Val d'Oise, two French departments bordering Paris.

The bizarre particularity of the operation? No petrol pump was forced or syphoned from.

To steal up to 120,000 litres of petrol — a theft worth €150,000 — the suspects hacked the petrol pumps with remote controls, AFP reported.

Once the pumps were hacked, they turned them on "maintenance mode", which allowed for pumping petrol without the pump's counter running.

The police investigation concluded that the suspects used "tanks of great capacity in utility vehicles" to transport the stolen petrol, adding that some of the thefts were conducted to serve clients "attracted by social media posts".

The origin of the remote controls used for the theft is unknown, but police suspect they were ordered online.