KUCHING, Dec 15: The occupants of a double-storey semi-detached house were found stealing electricity by way of remote control relay installed inside the meter during a routine meter inspection at Jalan Kong Ping recently.
According to a press statement from Sarawak Energy Berhad (Sarawak Energy), the inspection team detected this method of stealing electricity as they discovered that the meter cover was not genuine.
Further investigation found that the electronic circuits of the meter were tampered with, with the remote relay installed to control the incoming supply to by-pass the meter. Once the meter is by-passed, the electricity consumption used would not be registered and the customer will be using free electricity.
Sarawak Energy also closely monitors electricity consumption patterns and those which do not correspond with the type of business or buildings will be further inspected.
Actual load readings revealed that the premises was consuming more than RM400 per month as opposed to their average billed consumption of about RM150 per month.
The imitation meter cover found in this case is similar to the meter cover found in Miri, during a joint raid involving Sarawak Energy, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the police in 2018.
This year, 14 cases of imitation meter covers have been found statewide and the utility company believes that more are yet to be found. Sarawak Energy electric meter covers are specially marked, and the meter inspection teams are now well equipped with the latest equipment and trainings to detect any tampering methods.
The recently discovered tampered meter was dismantled and seized as evidence. A police report has been lodged and the owner of the premises will be called in to assist in the investigation under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance.
Stealing electricity is a criminal offence which carries a penalty of up to RM100,000 and/or five years’ jail if found guilty. In January 2020, a 62-year-old customer involved in meter tampering was found guilty and sentenced to jail for power theft for the first time in Sarawak.
In October this year, a 42-year-old cryptocurrency mining operator and his 48-year-old accomplice plead guilty to power theft at the Miri Sessions Court.
The two men were arrested in 2018 for being in possession of 90 stolen meters and 500 imitation SESCO meter covers during the joint raid involving Sarawak Energy, MACC and the police in Miri.
Both accused were charged under Section 33 (5) for illegally by-passing the electricity meter at a residential house at Jalan Desa Bahagia in Vista Perdana. The operator was also charged with endangering human lives and interfering with electrical installations under the Ordinance.
Sarawak Energy continues to remind customers not to trust service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity bills or allow unlimited usage of electricity through meter tampering. Power theft is a dangerous crime which can also damage electrical appliances causing fires, jeopardising safety and endangering lives.
The Electrical Inspectorate Unit of Sarawak Ministry of Utilities together with Sarawak Energy have investigated 2,297 power theft cases involving commercial and private homes throughout Sarawak this year with 39 civil court cases filed.
As for criminal prosecution of power theft crimes, the Sarawak Ministry of Utilities and State Attorney General Office have prosecuted 13 cases, in which the accused in 11 cases have pleaded guilty to the crime. Prosecution for the remaining 2 cases are still ongoing.
Sarawak Energy will actively continue to carry out meter inspection activities throughout Sarawak with the assistance from relevant authorities especially the Sarawak Ministry of Utilities and the Police.
Members of the public may report any suspicious activities related to power theft and on service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity use. They can do so by contacting Sarawak Energy’s customer care centre at 1300-88-3111 or email at email@example.com. All information will be kept strictly confidential. — DayakDaily