More than 200 customers are without service tonight after copper thieves struck 48 hours earlier.
On Tuesday night thieves stole an estimated 400 meters of copper from the LIME poles in Gutter, St. George leaving customers in Chimborazo, Coffee Gully, Airy Hill and Branch Berry in St. Joseph and Fisher Pond in St. Thomas without service. At one point an estimated 800 customers were without service.
When the Barbados TODAY team visited the areas this evening technicians were busy trying to reconnect service. One of the workers, who referred to be anonymous told this newspaper he believed there were two or three culprits who carried out the theft. He added that they would have known exactly what they were doing because also attached to the poles were Barbados Light & Power’s cables and they did not mistakenly clip any.
The worker said LIME was first informed of the theft when they received calls from frustrated customers complaining of no service.
He added that two technicians from LIME and five contracted workers from Cable Com worked diligently to restore service but were delayed yesterday and again today by inclement weather. However, he was still hopeful that service to the affected customers would be restored tonight.
The worker said so far for the year LIME lines have been hit by the copper thieves on about five occasions, resulting in millions of dollars in losses to the company.
He suggested there was not much that LIME could do to prevent the thieves from striking because some of the cables were located in remote areas.
“All you can do is report it to the police and hope that the culprits will be caught,” he said.
On the other hand he suggested the police should find the people who were buying the copper and prosecute them like they do with the illegal gold traders.
In May this year Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite said Government was worried about the theft of copper for sale and made reference to reports from the Ministry of Transport and Works about people taking up the metal covers from the road. He also pointed to LIME and other private individuals being the victims of stolen copper and said they were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of such theft.
Brathwaite said new legislation to deal with such matters should be ready by year-end.
The Attorney General said the proposed legislation would amend the Old Metal Dealers Act and the Sale of Old Metal Act, and would introduce tough penalties as part of a better regulated industry. He revealed that the proposals were for two years in jail or $10,000 in fines or both on summary conviction and $50,000 or 10 years behind bars or both on an indictable charge. (KC)