Plan to get rich quick ends with a leaky pipe

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Plan to get rich quick ends with a leaky pipe

This is not the way to become an oil magnate.

An enterprising - but maybe not so bright - man decided to rent a gas station to get access to an underground pipeline on the property. His idea: to tap into the line and extract liquid riches. Instead, he ended up turning himself in when his plan went awry. The man, surnamed Woo, had sprung a leak.

That’s according to police, who said the 51-year-old suspect from Busan rented the station in Gyeongju, went through an empty underground oil tank at the station with three accomplices and then spent 17 days digging underneath to get at the pipeline below.

They succeeded, police said. And from Friday to Sunday, they stole 125,000 liters (33,000 gallons) of fuel - 100,000 liters of gasoline, obtained over a 23-hour period, and 25,000 liters of diesel fuel - worth about 220 million won ($197,000).

Police said yesterday that Woo and his crew rented the gas station on Dec. 28 and began their underground effort to get access to the pipeline by grinding and cutting their way down. They then connected a valve and oil-pressure hose to the line to siphon off the fuel.

After committing the crime, Woo closed the valve but noticed that gasoline was leaking. Concerned about the leak, Woo reported the crime to the pipeline company, telling them that there was an leak in one of their pipelines.

When the company asked police to investigate on Sunday, Woo turned himself in. The police and the company quickly stopped the oil leak and prevented soil pollution and a possible explosion. Police are questioning the suspect over details of the theft and his alleged accomplices.


By Yim Seung-hye [enational@joongang.co.kr]

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