Romanian locals steal US air base fuel, but Romania’s defense minister blames US negligence for thefts

US Army 2nd Battalion, 10th Regiment, 10th Brigade UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters take off during a joint US-Romanian air assault exercise at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase, eastern Romania, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Romanian and U.S troops are staging joint exercises with U.S. Black Hawk helicopters, part of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade nine-month rotational deployment in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which aims to reassure NATO's European allies in light of Russia's invasion in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

Romanian Defense Minister Vasile Dîncu blamed U.S. troops’ attitude for the large-scale and systematic fuel theft from the Kogalniceanu Air Base on the Black Sea, home to the largest U.S. military presence in the country.

“Although the theft was committed by a group of locals, it was also due to American negligence and a lack of knowledge of local culture,” Dîncu said. Maybe unintentionally, but his statement can be construed as an admission that theft was part of Romanian culture and that foreign troops stationed in the country should reckon with this.

In the last days of November, the Romanian Police and the Organized Crime and Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office (DIICOT) conducted a search of 457 sites and questioned 367 suspects. It was part of large-scale operation to crack down on a gang whose members had been stealing diesel from generators since 2017 at a military base used by the U.S. military as Mikhail Kogalniceanu.

According to local press reports, seven of the suspects were employees of a supplier company responsible for maintaining the generators. However, under their supervision, the diesel levels of the generators were consistently low as their tanks were tapped into on a weekly basis and the stolen fuel was probably resold.

Incidentally, Romanian authorities have begun the investigation following a report from the U.S. federal government, which indicated that the theft caused damages totaling $2 million.

Share This Article