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Phosphine gas bottle theft a concern: police

A 68kg phosphine gas cylinder stolen last week from an Echuca business is a potential danger, police warn.

January 8, 2014 4:30am

Police believe more than one offender may have helped steal a potentially dangerous gas cylinder from an Echuca business last week.

The 68kg phosphine gas cylinder was stolen sometime between 5pm on New Year’s Eve and 8am January 2 from a business on McMillan Rd.

Sergeant Kevin Jensen of Echuca police said it was likely more than one person was involved.

‘‘Unknown offenders cut a chain and gained access to a restricted area with six cylinders and stole one,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a large cylinder and it’s possible there was more than one offender if they’ve had to carry it.’’

Phosphine gas is used to kill insects in stored grain and is flammable, toxic and potentially lethal.

‘‘It’s denser than air, can form explosive mixtures and can self ignite,’’ Sgt Jensen said.

He said the colourless gas had a distinctive smell.

‘‘They’ve added a garlic additive to this gas,’’ he said.

‘‘It can be absorbed into the body via inhalation, it’s a toxic gas and it can cause death.’’

Asked why anyone would want to steal such gas, Sgt Jensen said it was probably someone who knew what they were doing.

Sgt Jensen said a yellow Holden ute had been spotted driving slowly in the area about 11pm on New Year’s Day.

‘‘The vehicle was described as a dusty, yellow HJ or H2 six-cylinder Holden,’’ he said.

Anyone with information should contact Echuca police station on 54822255.

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