Over three hundred people have been arrested and charged for copper theft in this country in the last six months.
Word of this comes from the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT).
The revelation also followed two more arrests on Monday for the crime.
In recent times, there has been a growing trend of copper theft, particularly of cables belonging to TSTT.
In response to questions from Guardian Media, the company yesterday said, “From January to present, 306 people have been arrested and charged for copper theft.”
TSTT also said it is working to remove the excess copper.
“We are progressing with plans to wreck the copper plant,” it said.
In the meantime, however, TSTT strongly condemned the vandalism of its copper plant and theft of copper cables.
It said, “These acts of sabotage are a major inconvenience to people, businesses, communities and hinder productivity. Members of the public are reminded that criminal activities of this nature attract severe penalties under the Telecommunications Act. By virtue of Section 69 (1) of the Act, a person who maliciously damages, removes, or destroys facility works or other installation of a public network or a public telecommunications service commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to $250,000 and to imprisonment of up to five years.”
TSTT also asked for the public’s support in reporting these crimes at 800-0688.
Given the gravity of the situation, on July 7, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he was going to ask the Attorney General to look into a ban on the scrap iron industry.
“Manhole cover, it doesn’t matter if you fall in the hole and break your neck, or kill your wife, or kill your child, they are selling that, they cutting the cables, now they cutting the water lines,” he said.
A day later, Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association (TTSIDA) president Allan Ferguson pleaded with PM Rowley not to shut down the industry, as it will put thousands of people on welfare.
Ferguson said the TTSIDA wants to work with Attorney General Reginald Armour to find solutions.
Last week, a Cabinet sub-committee met with members of the Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association executive to discuss the plaguing issue of theft relating to the industry. The association also put forward proposals to treat with the issues.
On Tuesday, three men were each sentenced to 12 months’ hard labour, after they appeared before a Co