Cold storage warehouse in Miri caught stealing electricity

The meter inspection team inspecting one of the two electricity meters at the warehouse.

KUCHING, Aug 8: A cold storage warehouse proprietor in Kuala Baram, Miri was recently found stealing electricity in a recent raid conducted by a Sarawak Energy meter inspection team.

According to Sarawak Energy in a statement today, the operation, together with the Electrical Inspectorate Unit (EIU) from the Ministry of Utilities and the Police, was carried out after a search warrant was granted by the Magistrate to access the warehouse on suspicion of power theft following months of surveillance and a public tip-off.

Upon gaining access, it was discovered that one of electrical meters was tampered with, resulting in lower readings compared to the actual consumption. Several units of cargo container chillers were also found at the premises operating 24-hours a day. Billing analysis records showed that the electricity consumption for this warehouse was unrealistically low, approximately RM1,000.

The reading of the electrical load reading taken during the operation was estimated to cost around RM6,000 – RM7,000 per month, which may go higher during festive seasons with more chillers.

The tampered meter was seized for evidence and replaced with a new meter, and Sarawak Energy will continue to monitor the energy consumption at the premises to curb future tampering attempts.

Sarawak Energy also lodged a police report, and the warehouse owner would be called in to assist in the investigation for electricity theft.

Signs of tampering on one of the meter covers.

Sarawak Energy, through EIU and the State Attorney General’s chambers, would be taking legal action against the owner of the premises under Section 33(5) of the Sarawak Electricity Ordinance, which carries a fine of up to RM100,000 or five years’ imprisonment or both. The warehouse owner would also be charged for the accumulated arrears of the electricity stolen.

“Stealing electricity endangers lives and can cause damage to the customers’ property including electrical appliances, which may lead to fire. It can also cause serious injury and even fatalities.

“Sarawak Energy will monitor monthly electricity consumption closely, and action will be taken when consumption abnormalities are detected. Meter inspections and operations will also be conducted throughout Sarawak together with the state regulator, EIU and the police,” said the statement.

Sarawak Energy also advised customers not to trust any service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity bills and allow premise owners to enjoy limitless electricity usage. It said owners would be held responsible for the crime as the meters are registered under their names.

Members of the public can continue to report on any power theft information via the Sarawak Energy hotline at 082-443535. All information will be kept strictly confidential. — DayakDaily