Copper thieves cause RM30,000 damage to Sejingkat sub-station

SEB estimated the damage to the theft at the substation hovers around RM30,000. - SEB

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KUCHING: Unknown persons trashed Sarawak Energy Bhd’s electrical sub-station in Sejingkat, early Wednesday morning for the valuable insulating copper transformer.

SEB estimated the damage to the theft at the substation hovers around RM30,000.

In the incident, SEB said they received a report from a consumer of a blackout at 11.01am when the outage occurred some nine hours earlier at 2am.

“When our technical team reached the sub-station at 11.32am, the thieves were long gone,” SEB’s regional manager, Choo Min Chong, said.

“If we were informed earlier, we could have caught the thieves red handed,” he added.

Choo said the damaged transformer was replaced and power restored at 6.40pm on the same day.

Choo also said SEB, with assistance from the police, has increased the patrols on its vulnerable facailities to curb the problem.

The stripping of the Sejingkat sub-station is the latest in a growing problem the state utility company faced with theft of copper from its facilities state-wide.

The problem is most severe in the oil and gas town of Bintulu where 13 such cases were reported in the last two months.

SEB said 430 cases of copper theft reported throughout the state resulting in a loss of more than RM 5.2million since 2015.

To curb the thefts, SEB is now seeking assistance from consumers by asking them to immediately call its customer care centre or make a report through its mobile app ‘SEB cares’ when they experience a blackout or if they see suspicious persons loitering near their electrical facilities.

SEB said a prompt report of a blackout due to vandalism in their sub-station could lead to the arrest of the thieves.

Choo also said patrols achieved some success as they managed to foil a number of attempted vandalism.

“We will continue to work closely with the police to curb this dangerous crime. Public safety is Sarawak Energy’s utmost priority and we will continue to stress how dangerous this criminal activity can be,” Choo added.

Choo also said copper thieves risk their lives whenever they break into any substations as they are exposed to high voltage electricity.

On top to causing equipment failure, power outages and the danger of electrocution, Choo said a damaged transformer could cause unstable voltage which in turn could damage consumers’ electrical appliances. –