Local October 24, 2011 | 7:27 am

Thieves swipe twin-engine plane from Dominican Republic airport

SANTO DOMINGO.- The Armed Forces and National Police investigate the theft of a twin-engine plane of the hotel group Puntacana, stolen by unidentified people from its La Isabela International Airport (Higüero) hangar at 3:20am Sunday.

Reports say the robbery of the Viscraft-200 model 2000 turboprop, U.S. registry N871C, valued at US$2.5 million occurred after the airport was closed, since it operates only to midnight.

The authorities found a golf cart and several empty gas tanks at the entrance of the hangar, and assume that the thieves topped its fuel tanks.

Controllers of the control tower at the nearby Las Americas International Airport (AILA) noticed the plane’s movement at Higüero and rang the alarm, but the airplane had already taken off and in its last contact was 25 miles south of Santo Domingo.

All military and civilian personnel who were in service at the Higüero airport from Saturday to Sunday night are being questioned.

Investigators look into possible inside help, since the thieves apparently know the airport well, easily accessing the take fuel depot and taking fuel tanks to the airplane.

The Civil Aeronautics Board issued a worldwide warning on the stolen plane.

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