Sesco-MACC joint operation cripples meter-tampering ring in Miri

Some of the seized exhibits from the suspect's mini meter tampering laboratory.

KUCHING, August 29: Sarawak Energy’s utility arm Syarikat Sesco Bhd together with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) busted a significant meter-tampering syndicate in Miri on Monday (Aug 27).

The successful joint operation, which was the result of internal investigation and public tip-offs, led to the arrest of a syndicate member and the seizure of more than 500 imitation Sesco meter covers and 90 stolen Sesco electric meters.

The suspect was operating his illegal activity in Jalan Acacia and Permyjaya. At both premises, the team also discovered about 100 cryptocurrency mining servers directly tapping power by bypassing Sesco meters.

In the operation, the suspect, detained at his rented house in Jalan Acacia, was found to have converted one of his rooms into a laboratory for meter tampering activities.

Various meter components and parts used for tampering, such as relay switches, cut out fuses, cut out holders, meter security seals, meter circuit boards and remote control switches, were also found at the premises.

All evidence found in both premises was confiscated by MACC, while the direct tapping cables connected to the cryptocurrency mining servers were dismantled and seized by Sesco technicians as evidence for prosecution.

It is believed that the syndicate is responsible for most of the meter tampering activities in Miri and Sibu for years, servicing residential, commercial and industrial customers.

A mini meter tampering laboratory at the suspect’s rented house.
Stacks of cryptocurrency mining servers found at a rented house at Jalan Acacia.

Upon his release from detention by MACC yesterday, the suspect was immediately detained by the police for further investigation for the theft of Sesco meters and power theft activities.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. This collaboration with MACC is based on our suspicion that the syndicate is operating with assistance from insiders within the company. We now have the opportunity to further investigate this suspicion,” said a Sesco spokesperson.

“We will not compromise on integrity and strongly condemn any form of corrupt practice. Our staff must abide by the law and code of ethics. Anyone who is proven to have acted fraudulently or in a corrupt manner will be dealt with according to the law.”

With this significant bust, Sesco will actively continue meter inspection operations across the state and work with the Ministry of Utilities’ Electricity Inspectorate Unit (EIU) and other enforcement agencies such as MACC and the police to curb this dangerous crime.

Power theft in the state has caused Sarawak Energy about RM80 million in losses annually, and out of this amount, RM25 million is recorded in Miri alone.

“The success of this operation is made possible with the commitment and strong support from all relevant authorities including members of the public.

“For this operation, we wish to express our appreciation to both MACC and the police for their strong efforts in the enforcement to curb this menace that steals power and at the same time threatens public safety as the tampered wirings can cause short circuit and lead to fire, putting others in danger,” said the spokesperson.

SESCO reminded the public not to engage service providers offering services to steal electricity as it is a crime under Section 33 (5) of the Electricity Ordinance, which carries a penalty of RM100,000 and/or five years’ jail.

The public can report suspected power theft information by calling Sesco hotline 082-443535. All information will be kept strictly confidential. — DayakDaily