Rio police arrest seven people, including cop, in Brazil fuel theft gang

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian police in Rio de Janeiro state on Tuesday arrested seven people, including a police officer, and carried out 12 search warrants relating to an investigation into fuel theft, the public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The fuel was stolen in the towns of Carapebus, Quissamã and Macaé, the statement said. One of those arrested was a police officer in Macaé, while two others were pipeline watchmen hired by state-run Petrobras' subsidiary Transpetro.

The investigation found that some of the fuel headed to the town of Rolândia, in Paraná state.

Theft from Petrobras pipelines soared to a record high 261 incidents in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo last year, up from just one case in 2014, according to an August securities filing and statements made to Reuters by representatives of Petroleo Brasileiro SA as the company is formally known.

Crime costs Petrobras' distribution subsidiary, Petrobras Transporte SA, or Transpetro, over 150 million reais ($37 million) per year, Petrobras Chief Executive Roberto Castello Branco said at an event in June.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)