Police have been called in to investigate a “well organised crime“ that saw thieves siphon an estimated £8 million worth of fuel from a pipeline running under the house of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Kent Police said the criminal operation, which involved thieves stealing nearly 300,000 litres a day from the Esso pipeline that runs under the Sevenoaks estate of Clegg and Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, required “highly specialist techniques” and trained individuals.
According a Sun report, the gang drilled their way down into the pipeline, and removed the oil for a period of seven months.
The oil was then allegedly transported into huge plastic containers and taken away from the 120 mile pipeline that that carries fuel from the Fawley Refinery in Hampshire to Gatwick airport and Purfleet Fuel Terminal.
A Kent Police spokesman said: ”Kent Police was notified of some tampering to a fuel pipeline in the Sevenoaks area on August 6.
“Initial indications are that this was a well organised crime, employing highly specialist techniques to siphon fuel from pipelines which operate at very high pressure.”
It was not until Wednesday, when Esso stepped up their security along the pipeline that the large scale theft was discovered.
In reaction to the theft an Esso spokesman said: “The section of pipeline was temporarily shut down to make repairs, which have now been completed.
”There has been no impact on supplies to customers.
“We strongly condemn the highly dangerous criminal action by those involved and are working closely with the police in their criminal investigations.”
The National Crime Agency have called on anyone who has concerns about suspicious activity, such as excavation taking place at an unusual time or at an odd location, to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.