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Theft of LP gas now?

Theft of LP gas has been on the rise for the past six years; authorities should not wait until the situation is out of control to take the necessary actions to stop it
Truck with LP gas tanks – Photo: Yadin Xolalpa/EL UNIVERSAL
13/02/2018
08:43
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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One of the predominant issues of the past 12 months was the fuel theft directly from the pipelines of Mexico's state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX). Although this crime wasn't new, in 2017 it reached drug trafficking levels. Federal forces and the Mexican Army had to be deployed to engage the gangs of fuel thieves, called huachicoleros.

In Puebla, the economy of several towns was reliant on the illegal sale of gasoline. Several owners of gas stations and even some authorities were arrested as they were found to be linked to the phenomenon. Although this illegal practice has by no means been stopped, the problem has temporarily been contained.

Pursuant to data published today by EL UNIVERSAL, we're currently facing a similar problem but this time it's with LP gas. While numbers remain low when compared to illegal gasoline drillings, theft of LP gas has been on the rise for the past six years.

In 2012, five illegal outlets were detected but last year there were 61 – an increase of 1,120%. ¿Are thieves gangs switching the product they're stealing?

This practice is beginning to spike. Authorities should not wait until the situation is out of control – like fuel theft did – to take the necessary actions to stop it.

Like many crimes, theft of LP gas has its roots in a social problem. LP gas – the most used type of gas in the country and vital for thousands of homes and businesses – increased its price by 60% in just 14 months, a period in which inflation almost reached 7% and the increase of minimum daily wages was less than in previous years.

The area with the most number of cases of LP gas theft is the same where gasoline theft takes place, the so-called Red Triangle, to the east of Puebla. It's the same region, the same m.o.; shouldn't local authorities keep an eye on this area to avoid a repeat of last year?

Theft of LP gas seems to confirm that local authorities, the first to act, do not have either the ability or the resources to deal with crime in the area...or worse, that they're in collusion with the criminals.

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