Staff on the pipeline that brings fuel into Malaga Airport noticed something was wrong when the pressure dropped. Using a helicopter, they found a suspicious tube in the ground on a farm in the Guadalhorce valley. In October 2011, police were called and a British family of four were arrested.
The family had rented the farm and drilled down to the vital pipeline under the land. The father was arrested in a white van with a tank of 1,000 litres of diesel inside. A neighbour said that he had seen the van coming every day to the land at around 1pm. Analysis showed that 156,700 litres of diesel went missing.
At the trial this week, one investigator explained how dangerous their activity had been, using homemade equipment to perforate a pipe that also carries kerosene and gasoline. The airfield was on the verge of losing supply, he said.
The mother and father (now divorced) and children admit the thefts, saying they were ordered by somebody else to take the fuel.
The company responsible for the airport's supply, Compañía Logística de Hidrocarburos (CLH), puts the cost of the damage caused at around four million euros.
The trial continues.