TAIPING: For a long time, lorry driver P. Visvalingam had felt that there was no need for him to own a cell phone. He already has a fixed line telephone at home.
Lately, however, he has been thinking of getting one.
The house telephone's line has been erratic because of a spate of thefts of overhead cables in his neighbourhood over the past year.
Visvalingam lives with his ageing mother at their home in Kampung Matang Jambu near here.
His brother in Singapore and other family members would often call to ask about her well-being.
“My brother had not been able to talk to her over the past two weeks because thieves had taken away some portion of the overhead telephone cables,” said Visvalingam.
At nearby Kampung Jaha, villagers caught two men in the midst of cutting an overhead cable at about 1.30am last Saturday.
Village chief Osman Harun said the two were cornered by a group of villagers, who later handed them to the police.
Yesterday, S.K. Lingaeswaran, 32, and S. David, 24, both from Taman Damai in Simpang near here, pleaded guilty in a magistrate's court to stealing the cables, worth about RM6,000.
Magistrate Fadzilatul Ahmad Refngah set Jan 10 for sentencing.
They face a jail sentence of up to seven years or a fine, or both.
Section 379 of the Penal Code also allows for a stroke of the rotan if a person had committed a similar offence previously.
Such thefts are also not uncommon in Kampung Hujong Matang, said stall owner Omar Hassan.
“There had been two thefts of overhead cables leading to our village in the past three months. Now, I use a handphone,” he said.
The Taiping Zoo has also not been spared.
Zoo director Dr Kevin Lazarus said their telephones had been rendered useless at least three times over the past four months.
“Although most of our staff have handphones, we need the cables for our computers for email as well as for faxes.
“We depend heavily on the fax machines, through which we usually receive bookings for tour visits,” he said.
Kampung Dew Barat Rukun Tetangga (RT) chairman C. Shanmugam proposed that Telekom Malaysia enlist the help of all RTs or village development committees to keep watch over the cables and public telephone booths.
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