The highest losses were in India ($16.2 billion), followed by Brazil ($10.5 billion) and Russia ($5.1 billion). According to recent studies, 80% of power theft worldwide occurs in private homes and 20% in commercial and industrial areas.
Power theft comes in various forms. Direct hooking from line is the method used by most power criminals. It occurs when the people tap directly into a power line from a point ahead of the energy meter. When this is done, the energy consumption is unmeasured and procured with or without switches.
Another form of power theft carried out by residents and/or thieves is to bypass the energy meter by stopping the energy from registering in the energy meter.
When power authorities smarten up the first two theft occurrences, people will still steal power by placing foreign materials inside the meter to stop free movement of the disc. Once the rotating disc is slowed down, the meter registers less energy consumption.
In Liberia the issue of power theft is very grave. Recovering from a 14 years civil war that left basic infrastructure completely damaged, the issue of power generation remains paramount for a nation bent on fueling industries’ capacity to add to the burgeoning national GDP. But just as the government makes inroads to increase its power generation capacity, so too are hardened criminals spending sleepless nights scheming ways and means to bypass channels just to steal power.
According to the recent estimates from the Liberia Electricity Corporation, power theft amounts to a $1.4 million monthly loss. Although the LEC has of late undertaken vigorous sensitization and awareness campaigns against power theft, the crime continues unabated.
But many continue to blame the LEC for the problem. In a recent community engagement between residents of the Lakpazee community and authorities of the LEC, the residents vented their frustration over delays in getting connected. The residents said they were forced to resort to power theft because the LEC is not serious about having their homes connected, even when they have gone through the formalities of registration.
“You people will have to do something about this situation. We all know that power theft is not good but you have to know too that light is life,” Teddy Perry, a resident of the community indicated.
The case of the Lakpazee community is akin to many other communities where LEC power facilities have reached. To drive a point right home is our own situation right here at Matrix Media. We’ve gone through all of the formalities. It’s been over six months since our paper works and fees were completed. Yet and still, there is no LEC current.
By and large, as we all go through the pains of getting connected, we urge each and every one to continue exercising restraint. As the saying goes: Rome was not built in a day’s time. It is easier to destroy than to rebuild. With the restoration of Mount Coffee Hydro beyond its prewar capacity, more homes will be lit up.
But while this is being done, let the LEC prioritize those of its customers who have made the sacrifice to meet the connectivity requirements. This is one of the surest ways to prevent power theft and the ungainly sights of electrocuted power thieves hanging dry on power poles in broad day light.