KUCHING, Dec 8: Sarawak Energy and the Ministry of Utilities’ Electrical Inspectorate Unit (EIU) have uncovered a new power theft method which involved hiding tampered cables underground to avoid detection in a recent joint executive action.
Following weeks of surveillance and public tip-offs, the inspection team was granted a warrant by the Magistrates Court to raid a double-storey detached house in Jalan Sg Apong on Dec 4.
According to Sarawak Energy Berhad (Sarawak Energy) in a press release today, unlike previous cases where tampered cables were hidden within the building’s structure, ceilings or walls, the team found direct tapping cables hidden underground after hacking through concrete floors at the premises.
The direct tapping cables were connected from the main incoming supply, by-passing the meter, resulting in low consumption readings.
Suspicions over the possibility of power theft in the area arose when an underground cable fault was detected in November, which led to several electricity tripping incidents in the area.
Load readings at site showed high energy consumption of more than RM500 per month as opposed to their average consumption of about RM200 per month, with its lowest at RM24 per month.
Sarawak Energy’s meter inspection teams are equipped with the latest equipment and are well trained to detect any tampering methods.
The unsafe tampered cables were dismantled and seized as evidence. A police report has been lodged and the owner of the premises will be called in to assist in the investigation under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance.
In the press release, Sarawak Energy warned that stealing electricity is a criminal offence which carries a penalty of up to RM100,000 and/or five years’ jail.
Customers are reminded not to trust service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity use or allow unlimited usage of electricity through meter tampering.
Power theft is a dangerous crime which can also damage electrical appliances leading to fire, jeopardise safety and endanger lives.
On Nov 11, investigations involving a house in Bintulu used for cryptocurrency mining activities uncovered tampered electricity wiring that connected directly from the mains and by-passed the electricity meter.
Sarawak Energy thus advised landlords to constantly be alert about their tenants’ activities to avoid being implicated in possible power theft committed by tenants at rented premises.
In 2020 alone, the EIU together with Sarawak Energy have investigated 2,289 power theft cases involving commercial and private homes throughout Sarawak. To date, Sarawak Energy has filed 39 civil court cases relating to power theft.
For criminal prosecution of power theft, the Ministry of Utilities and State Attorney-General’s Office have filed a total of 13 cases. Of this number, 11 cases have already been won with the accused pleading guilty to the crime. Prosecution for two power theft criminal cases are still ongoing.
In January 2020, a customer involved in meter tampering was found guilty and sentenced to jail for power theft for the first time.
Sarawak Energy will continue to actively carry out meter inspection activities throughout Sarawak with assistance from all relevant authorities especially the Ministry of Utilities and the police.
Members of the public may report any suspicious activities related to power theft and service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity use.
They may do so by contacting Sarawak Energy’s customer care centre at 1300-88-3111 or email [email protected] All information will be kept strictly confidential. — DayakDaily