100 kilos of stolen wires recovered

Task force assembled to investigate copper wire theft incidents

Police have recovered a total of 100 kilos of copper wires allegedly stolen from the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. power poles after Typhoon Soudelor’s devastation.

Department of Public Safety acting spokesman Jason Tarkong said yesterday that police recovered early this week a total of 100 kilos of copper wires from two recycling centers on the island.

Tarkong said the stolen copper wires have been confirmed as CUC’s property.

Tarkong also revealed that 26 other kilos of stolen aluminum were recovered during the two police operations.

He said that based on his information, a kilo of copper wire is worth $4 at the recycling centers.

Asked if police made any arrest, DPS Commissioner James C. Deleon Guerrero said yesterday that investigation is ongoing and that they are “going to get to the bottom of this.”

Deleon Guerrero said CUC filed several complaints of copper wires being stolen from downed power poles and that police are making progress in terms of the investigation into those cases.

“I would like to emphasize to those people who continue to go out and victimize other people in times like this. This is absolutely disturbing and at best very disheartening for the members of the community,” the commissioner said.

He said a lot of people are affected by copper wire theft incidents and that if some people continue to steal copper wires from downed power poles, it is just going to prolong what CUC needs to do to be able to restore full island power.

“We don’t even know at this point if there is adequate wiring supply for them to be able to utilize the power poles. It will just delay the island power restoration if too much of this is happening,” Deleon Guerrero said.

The commissioner commended CUC’s efforts because “they’re doing a fantastic job” in terms of trying to put up power poles and trying to restore power given their limited resources.

“But if there are others in the community that are choosing to take advantage of all these downed pole lines and start cutting them up and sending them to recycling centers for a few bucks, it’s absolute craziness that needs to be dealt with,” he said.

Deleon Guerrero vowed to go all out in terms of what they need to do to investigate and apprehend those responsible for stealing those cooper wires.

He disclosed that a task force has been created to handle all cooper wires thefts that are happening.

As to recycling centers that buy stolen copper wires, Deleon Guerrero there is very limited legal consequence for these businesses, which is why he is reaching out to other government agencies that have better leverage when it comes to regulating the business community.

“And we’re hoping at this point actually to try to make it hurt them because it is ridiculous. You would know when you see when something is stolen,” the commissioner pointed out.

He reiterated his recommendation for the Legislature to consider making it illegal to export copper wires from the Commonwealth, “when you look at the damage that have been caused by people stealing cooper from residential homes and public infrastructure.”

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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