JOHOR BARU: The soaring prices of steel and copper are causing thieves to target anything containing these metals, from electrical cables to manhole covers.
The situation has reached such an alarming state that in one incident on Friday, a fire broke out when thieves carted away metal fixtures from a Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) cable bridge in Jalan Skudai.
The theft caused a power overload that triggered a fire which caused losses of RM650,000.
Last year, the company suffered losses amounting to RM2.5mil from 83 similar thefts, mainly involving substations around the state.
In the last two months of this year, we had five cases with losses touching almost RM700,000, state TNB general manager Mohammad Mokhtar Mohd Ali said.
He said the utility giant was working with the police to nab the culprits.
The Johor Baru City Council is also facing similar theft problems on a daily basis.
Council public relations officer Lokman Sulaiman said that last year alone, the council discovered some 500 thefts involving manhole and drain covers.
The council spent more than RM40,000 replacing them, he said, adding that the worst-hit areas were around Taman Pelangi and Taman Daya.
He explained that, to date, the council had spent about RM4,000 to replace these covers in about 50 cases.
We have started to take precautionary measures including welding the covers to the base, he said.
On the fire, Mohammad assured the public that there would be no power disruptions although repair works would take at least 10 days.
Last year, we nabbed at least 10 people for stealing TNB property. In one instance, a man died from electrocution, he said.
During the 10.20am fire, eight firemen from the Johor Baru Fire and Rescue Department rushed to the scene and took 10 minutes to bring the blaze under control.
We received the call at 10.25am and reached the scene eight minutes later, fire department operations commander Shahri Nor said, adding that no one was hurt in the incident.
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