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Apr 15, 2008

B.E.L. hit hard by copper thieves

Story PictureA teenager continues to recover from gunshot injuries at the K.H.M.H. tonight after he was shot by police around one on Saturday morning south of Independence Village. But fifteen year old Isaac Santos was not a random victim; he’s implicated in the theft of thousands of dollars worth of copper wiring from the Aqua Mar Shrimp Farm earlier that night. As we have previously highlighted, the valuable metal has been targeted by thieves who then sell to scrap dealers across the border. It’s a big problem for Belize Electricity Limited but this afternoon the power company stressed that in the end, everyone is being hurt by the crime.

Dawn Sampson, Manager, Corporate Communications, B.E.L.
“The impact Janelle, has been tremendous. I will tell you that in Placencia for example, we’ve lost close to two and a half miles of underground cable valued at approximately two hundred thousand dollars. Now the means by which you find these perpetrators carry out these acts. First of all they go after our ground wire. The problem when they do that is that they take away the protection that we have in the system to protect B.E.L.’s equipment, and also our customers’ equipment. So in a case like that if there’s a fault in our system or a lightning storm it damages B.E.L.’s equipment and the customers’ equipment so there’s a cost involved there. You find that they target and monitor our project sites so we’ve lost thousands of dollars of equipment from our project sites. They use very innovative ways to excavate the underground cable. One of the means that really stands out is that they actually cut poles that support energized transmission and distribution lines just to access the transformers.”

“When these perpetrators go after our poles, our ground wires, our underground cables, we have to spend money to carry out the repairs, we have to schedule power outages so the customer is inconvenienced from that perspective. The customers from time to time are also directly affected because these perpetrators not only target B.E.L., they go after the homes of the customer so the point I’m trying to make, is that it’s important that we all pay attention to the issue and if you have relevant information, report it to the police, report it to B.E.L.”

According the Sampson, the company is exploring the possibility of using substitute materials that are not as sought after as copper wire.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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