Mexico is experiencing an epidemic of pipeline thefts: This past year, fuel thieves drilled 10,363 illegal taps into state-owned pipelines, or an average of about 28 illegal taps every day. And as one observer noted, these are just the taps that have been found.
Pemex, the state-run oil company, has been monitoring the situation and have closed 70 service stations for selling fuel presumably stolen.
Such thievery cost Pemex over $1 billion in losses in 2016 and the estimated cost for 2017 is even higher.
Once largely confined to two or three states in Mexico, the thefts have since spread across the country, including the suburbs of Mexico City.
Thieves use hand drills to make a hole in pipelines and quickly screw valves and hoses into place; they then fill everything from 275-gallon (1,064-litre) portable tanks to entire tanker trucks.
The illegal taps are usually discovered either because they leak, cause pipeline pressure to drop, or catch fire.