Tuesday, October 15

Electrician caught helping massage parlour steal power

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SEB technicians dismantle the direct – and illegal – wiring connection.

KUCHING: A 20-year-old electrician was caught red-handed helping a massage parlour operator at Tabuan Tranquility here steal electricity recently.

According to a statement issued by Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) yesterday, the operator has been connecting power supply illegally to the three-storey premises since early this year, in which the supply did not pass the power meter and this was made possible through illegal wiring connection.

The electrician was in the process of connecting the wires when the arrest was made by the anti-power theft team, consisting of personnel from SEB’s utility arm Syarikat Sesco Bhd, Electrical Inspectorate Unit (EIU) of the Ministry of Utilities, and the police.

The operation was set up following public tip-off and also surveillance of the premises over the past few months.

The electrician is now at the Tabuan Jaya police lock-up, and his supervisor has been called in to assist in the investigation under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance, for power theft.

As the massage parlour operator had never applied for proper electricity supply connection, the safety of the wiring was questionable as no proper testing in accordance with the standards and safety requirements had eben done by Sesco.

One of the suspects apprehended at the scene.

This could cause fire to the building or put others in danger of electrocution.

Based on past records, the operator is a repeat offender of power theft. Despite having the illegal supply disconnected six times previously, the operator continued to steal electricity.

In the recent operation, it was discovered that the supply was reconnected through the same method by incoming main-wirings on all three floors of the premises.

All illegal wirings were immediately disconnected and dismantled by SEB’s technical team.

During the operation, the electrical load for the premises was measured and the chargeable rates were estimated to be RM4,000 to RM5,000 per month.

The actual amount could have been higher considering that the measurement was taken in the morning, during the business off-peak hours.

The SEB, through EIU and the State Attorney General Chambers, is taking legal action and will charge the operator for the amount of electricity stolen.

This is the second power theft case recorded at Tabuan Tranquility area this year. The first one occurred at a housing estate earlier in the year, where the house owner was also caught red-handed.

Prosecution’s preparation for the first case is underway.

Meanwhile, the Sarawak Energy Auxiliary Police (AP) recently arrested two men who were spotted stealing cables at the Assar Senari 11kV substation, during a routine patrol along Jalan Bako.

The two men, 33 and 37, were spotted at the substation around 3.30am on Sunday, which prompted the AP patrol team to immediately call for reinforcement to apprehend the suspects with assistance from the police.

The team found tools used to cut the cables and a motorcycle belonging to the suspects.

Based on assessment at site, the suspects gained access to the substation by forcing open the shutter door. A sack with 30m of cut cables were found, believed to be cut from the circuit breaker, control panel and internal wiring.

The damage was estimated to be worth around RM50,000.

SEB had lodged a police report regarding the incident, and handed over the suspects and the seized items to the police for further action.

Statistics showed that since last year, 178 cases of vandalism and cable thefts had been recorded, affecting electrical facilities – with damages amounting to RM2.2 million.

The SEB had taken various mitigation exercises by reinforcing additional security measures at the substations and electrical facilities.

These include security patrols, installation of closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) and alarm system.

“We will continue to work closely with EIU and the police, and reminds our customers that this illegal activity is a crime under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance, which carries a penalty of RM100,000 and/or five years’ jail, upon conviction,” said the SEB.

Members of the public can report on any power theft or suspicious activities near power facilities via SEB hotline 082-443 535, or 24-hour Customer Care Centre via 1300-88-3111, or immediately call the nearest police station.

All information will be kept strictly confidential.