TSTT: Police held 161 for copper cable theft

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Cut cable lines hang from a line on Corinth Street in San Fernando on Wednesday. TSTT says 161 people have been taken to court by police for offences related to stealing copper from its utility lines. – AYANNA KINSALE

SOME 161 people have been taken to court this year for stealing copper cable, with TSTT lamenting “a significant increase” in such theft during the pandemic, in a TSTT statement on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Scrap Iron Dealers Association head Allan Ferguson blamed the thefts on TSTT which he said had failed to take up his association’s offer to remove unused copper cables before the thieves could strike.

TSTT said since 2018 it had sought to shift its customers from copper to wireless and fibres, both which more suitable in this digital age.

It condemned this criminal activity and those rogue scrap iron dealers who buy stolen cable and fuel the illicit trade.

“The haphazard, unauthorised removal of copper cables poses a tremendous risk to the vandals and others. It endangers the lives of those directly involved, compromises the safety of residents and motorists, and contributes to often widespread service outages.

“While TSTT has made considerable progress transitioning customers to wireless and fibre alternatives, the company still has active customers who rely on copper for much-needed service. Furthermore, when vandals damage non-copper cables in the process, it adversely affects TSTT’s customers and other utility providers as well.”

TSTT incurred significant costs owing to these thefts.

The statement said TSTT was disappointed at Ferguson’s recent remarks.

“TSTT is committed to following the company’s established procurement and disposal practices and will not, under any circumstances, be strongarmed into disregarding its due diligence requirements to satisfy another party’s agenda.”

The statement said such criminal activities attract severe penalties under the Telecommunications Act, of a fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

TSTT thanked the police and other law enforcement agencies that it works closely with to bring matters before the court, plus members of the public for reporting instances of cable theft and urges them to continue doing so by calling 800-0688.