The largest ever haul of suspected stolen petrol in Greater Manchester has been seized after a raid by police in Oldham.
Officers from the Oldham Divisional Organised Crime Unit executed a warrant on Mark Lane in Shaw under the umbrella of Operation Caminda, which was set up to tackle organised criminality in the area.
They recovered up to 1,600 litres of petrol and diesel stored in 25 litre chemical containers stashed in the garage and garden shed. Firefighters from the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service also attended.
Greater Manchester Police said the initial assessment was that this is the largest amount of suspected stolen fuel being illegally stored within a residential or commercial property ever recovered.
Officers also found approximatley £30,000 in cash hidden in the house.
A 51-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of theft and money laundering, and was later bailed until February 2014.
Chief superintendent Catherine Hankinson, divisional commander for Oldham, said: “This is an incredible find. The sheer volume of petrol and diesel being stored at this location is, we think, the largest amount ever recovered.
“We believe this fuel was stolen and was being illegally stored at and sold from the address, and the fact we have recovered £30,000 in cash shows what a lucrative criminal enterprise this is. This money has been seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act legislation so if it can be proved this cash was generated by criminality, it will be forfeited and ploughed back into the fight against crime.
“I want to be absolutely clear that the amount of fuel we recovered posed a huge risk to residents in this area.
“Given the location of the property and the way it was being recklessly stored in chemical containers in a garden shed and garage, if there had been a fire then it is no exaggeration to say the entire area could have exploded and put people’s lives in serious jeopardy.
“What that demonstrates is that criminals have zero regard for other people’s lives, only their own pockets, but thanks to this intervention by the Oldham Divisional Organised Crime Unit we have not only smashed a criminal enterprise but undoubtedly saved lives.”