NEWS & UPDATES
Sarawak Energy Anti-Power Theft Campaign Showing Success
Power Theft Via Underground Cable Detected at Sg Apong
8 DECEMBER 2020
A recent joint executive action between Sarawak Energy and the Electrical Inspectorate Unit (EIU) of Sarawak’s Ministry of Utilities successfully uncovered a new power theft method that hides tampered cables underground to avoid detection.
Following weeks of surveillance and public tip-offs, the inspection team was granted a warrant by the Magistrate Court to carry out a raid at a double-storey detached house in Jalan Sg Apong on 4 December 2020. Unlike previous cases where tampered cables were hidden within the building structure, ceilings or walls, the team found direct tapping cables hidden underground after hacking through concrete floors of the premises.
The direct tapping cables were connected from the main incoming supply by-passing the meter, resulting in low consumption readings. The suspicion over the presence 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 RM24.00 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. Stealing electricity is a criminal offence which carries a penalty of up to RM100,000 and/or five years’ jail.
Sarawak Energy continues to remind customers 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 jeopardising safety and endangering lives.
On 11 November, investigations involving a house in Bintulu used for cryptocurrency mining activities uncovered tampered electricity wiring that connected directly from the mains and by-passing the electricity meter.
Sarawak Energy advises landlords to constantly be alert of their tenants’ activities to avoid being implicated in possible power theft committed by tenants at rented premises.
Over 2020 alone, the Electrical Inspectorate Unit together with Sarawak Energy have investigated 2,289 power theft cases involving commercial and private homes throughout Sarawak. To date, Sarawak Energy have filed 39 civil court cases relating to power theft.
For criminal prosecution of power theft, the Ministry of Utilities and State Attorney General Office have filed a total of 13 cases. Of the number, 11 cases have already been won with the accused pleading guilty for the crime Prosecution for another 2 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 on service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity use. They can do so by contacting Sarawak Energy’s customer care centre at 1300-88-3111 or email at email@example.com. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
The inspection team at the scene
The team inspecting the cables
The team digging the concrete to inspect the underground cable
The by-pass cable found at the scene
The underground direct tapping cable is hidden in the concrete floor
The bypass cable were dismantled and seized as evidence