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Shanghai toget tough on cable theft
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08:20, April 02, 2008

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The soaring price of metals, including iron and copper, has made stealing electric cables from power lines, telecommunications and broadcasting facilities a profitable business.

But Shanghai's public security authorities vowed yesterday to boost efforts to crack down on the crime.

Last year, the number of cases involving damage to electrical cables was up 17 percent on 2006, the security bureau said. In the first half of the year, police concluded investigations of 1,000 cases, but declined to give a figure for the whole year.

While the problem is a growing concern in Shanghai, it's not new to China.

In June, the Ministry of Public Security launched a six-month nationwide campaign against the growing number of cable thefts.

"Electrical, telecommun-ications and broadcasting facilities are critical components of the country's infrastructure and public utilities," Yang Weigen, director of the department responsible for fighting cable theft, under Shanghai's public security bureau, said.

"So, these issues, which concern people's well-being, should be given top priority."

A cross-department liaison mechanism has been established to mobilize all necessary forces to combat cable theft, Yang said.

Since June, police have undertaken joint efforts with Shanghai Municipal Electric Power Co and the committee on social security administration.

Officers hope the partnership will help them crack more cases more quickly.

"With the help of electric power companies, we can spot cases much sooner and take immediate action to retrieve the losses," Yang said.

"We will in turn educate companies about how they can protect their equipment against potential theft based on our studies of criminal behavior."

Wang Qi, director of the public security bureau of Zhabei district, said metal buyers involved in unlicensed recycling operations have contributed to the increase in cable thefts.

Additional measures will be put in place to punish these buyers and weed out cable thieves, he said.

Purchasing stolen metals is a criminal offence in Shanghai, punishable by a fine of 500 to 1,000 yuan ($70-$140). In severe cases, buyers can be detained for five to 10 days.

Source: China Daily



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