Most Russian utilities face the difficult problem of cable theft, stolen power lines which leads to huge losses for companies and disruption of electricity supply to the population, industrial facilities and railways. Utilities have to restore power lines at the expense of funds allocated for investment and upgrades. In this way, cable theft has long become a headache for electric companies, local authorities, law enforcement and the population.
AO MOSENERGO takes every effort to counteract thieves and prevent theft and set up the Corporate Security Department (CSD) several years ago to step up the fight against stealing. CSD has developed measures for 2002, which helped to halt the growth of cable and equipment thefts in the Moscow region. In the fourth quarter, the number of thefts in the Moscow region more than halved as compared to the same period of 2001.
The cost of equipment stolen from AO MOSENERGO facilities in 2002 exceeded 2.7 mln rubles. The amount of damage is estimated at 8.7 mln rubles. This is the amount needed to buy and install new equipment. Last year, AO MOSENERGO suffered from more than 200 thefts of equipment and cables containing non-ferrous metals. Thieves stole 205 km of aluminum and copper cables, disrupting the power supply to 116 population centers in the Moscow region with around 7,000 residents. The power supply was disrupted for a total of 1,425 hours. Local law enforcement initiated 144 criminal investigations into these cases.
CSD's analysis shows that organized teams, consisting of local residents, carry out thefts. To fight violators, prevent thefts and illegal sales of stolen electrical equipment, CSD worked last year to accomplish the following:
- Set up ambushes at known theft locations
- Launch metal shop inspections that are carried out jointly with representatives from Economic Crime Department, Criminal Investigation Department and the Moscow Licensing Chamber
- Establish links with the Interior Ministry and assist them in searching for thieves and carrying out criminal investigations
- Establish working contacts with local administrations
- Educate the population by explaining the scope of damage from thefts. This education aims to increase the awareness of the problem and vigilance of the population and to receive help in preventing thefts from happening by reporting suspicious metal sales to law enforcement agencies.
As a result of ambushes, which are set are regularly set by CSD in cooperation with detective agency Pilgrim and local Interior departments, in 2002, they arrested seven gangs, in total – 18 people. One of the thieves was sentenced to 3 years in prison in accordance with article 158, part II of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Two thieves received suspended sentences. Another three are still under investigation.
Last year CSD often checked local metal shops, which buy non-ferrous and ferrous metals. In total, the company checked 34 shops. Twelve shops were operating illegally and were closed.
The efficiency of AO MOSENERGO measures aimed to counteract thefts is illustrated by the fact that thus far only one theft has been registered in 2003 (in the Kashira district). This is eight times lower as compared to last January.
In 2003, AO MOSENERGO also prevented one theft in the Mozhaisk district, although the criminal managed to cut cables leading to Vlasovo Village, which led to power supply disruption. The thief turned out to be a local resident. He was sent to the local interior department, with a criminal investigation initiated against him.