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Thieves Pretended to be Volunteers to Steal Equipment worth R$ 2 Million in Mariana

01/15/2016 - 10h20

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José Marques
From Belo Horizonte

Presenting themselves as representatives of a Rio de Janeiro contractor interested in collaborating on works following the mudslide tragedy in Mariana (MG), a group falsified documents, rented ten vehicles - trucks and backhoe loaders - cleaned the mud for days and then disappeared, taking part of the equipment and causing a loss of R$ 2 million ($ 498,400) to companies and workers of the city.

BBC/AFP
The group caused a loss of $ 498,400 to companies and workers of the city.
The group caused a loss of $ 498,400 to companies and workers of the city.

A pickup truck worth R$ 90,000 ($ 22,432) was stolen too. Other six vehicles were abandoned - three of them with damages in the electrical system.  The scammers left debts in two car rental shops, in a gas station, in a hotel and ten unpaid employees.

The case was reported on Thursday (14) by Mariana's mayor Duarte Júnior (Popular Socialist Party PPS), and by local business owners - as the bed and breakfast they stayed in and the car rental shops -, after the Civil Police from Ouro Preto (a neighbouring city) opened an inquiry to investigate the case.

According to the mayor, the group filed the request for service in City Hall before starting the works.  "The company came in early December saying they would provide equipment to assist in the tragedy," said Duarte Júnior.

In January, they began to remove the mud from the affected sites and worked for a week.  "After a week, they said they would take the equipment to be serviced," said the mayor.

To get the job done, they rented the vehicles in Belo Horizonte and the pickup truck in Mariana. They also hired ten locals to work.  No one was paid.

The vehicles had trackers, but they were disabled by the group.  In total, a pickup truck, three backhoe loaders and a hydraulic excavator were stolen.

Translated by JULIANA CALDERARI

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