Thane, June 20: A petrol pump racket using chips to tamper with the petrol pump metres across the state of Maharashtra was busted on Saturday, the police said. The police, with the permission from the Maharashtra Director General of Police, raided petrol pumps in Nashik, Pune and Khopoli and found that nearly 2000 fuel dispensing machine metres were rigged. Following the revelation, the police sealed seven petrol pumps across the state after learning that they have been operating with rigged metres which show a false reading to customers while pumping less fuel than what has been paid for by the customers.

“We have frozen one pump each in Thane, Dombiwali, Khopoli, Pune and Nashik and two at Bhiwandi in the past couple of days. All of them were functioning with the chips. We were tipped off about a few of them by Shetye in May. Others showed up on our radar due to the complaints we had been getting from regular customers, which were verified by our sources,” said DCP Trimukhe.

Through rigged petrol pump metres, the police believe that the pumps have each pocketed Rs 5.5 lakh a month by dispensing 5-7 per cent less for every litre bought. The tampering of the pump metres came to the fore when some motorists in Thane, Dombivali, and Khopoli lodged complaints with local police stations stating that they had been short-changed by the fuel stations.

The raids led to the discovery that some chips were fitted to the fuel dispensing machines which made the metres run faster than the petrol being pumped out. The first such raid took place at a petrol pump in Manpada. At Manpada, for 5 litres, the machine would dispense 4.8 litres. “Over a day, it leads to pilfering of substantial amounts,” said an officer.

“Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that per month, more than 70 per cent of the pumps collectively pocketed up to Rs 15 crore by skimping on the fuel. The ones in Bhiwandi and Khopoli made more than the others as they were pinching 7 per cent from every litre,” a senior crime branch official investigating the case said, reported Mumbai Mirror.

According to the reports, the managers and owners of the nine raided pumps have been arrested. Upon questioning, they told the police that the petrol transporters are involved in the racket. However, the claims are yet to be verified, a senior investigator said.

The police also seized nine pulsers attached to petrol dispensing machines. “Based on information we had, we have coordinated with police stations across the state and raided petrol pumps at Pune, Nashik and Khopoli. We have seized nearly nine pulsers from petrol pumps. It is in addition to the one at Thane that we sealed earlier,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Abhishek Trimukhe.

“The chips used in Thane were much more advanced than those used in UP. It took us over a month before we could verify information and conduct the raids,” said a police officer.

As many as 2000 petrol pumps are rigged across Maharashtra. “During the course of our interrogation, one of the arrested accused confessed that he tampered with dispensing machines of around 2000 pumps in the state, said Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. Singh also said that it is a well thought criminal conspiracy against the consumers and the proprietors of the petrol pumps are known to have adopted multiple fraudulent mechanisms which would under deliver fuel.