MTNL installs detectors to nab cable thieves

May 01, 2014, 08:47 IST | Shirish Vaktania

Has attached cable theft detectors to their wires all over the city; as soon as thieves cut the cables to steal them, the devices trigger an alarm in the local MTNL office, after which officials can reach the spot to nab the culprits

The Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited has come up with a new way to deal with cable thieves. It has installed a Cable Theft Detector (CTD) system all over the city, which alerts officials when the cables are being stolen.

Thieves cut off the cables, pulled it out of the pipe and fled with them. It takes two to three days to replace the wires and restore the affected lines, say officials
Thieves cut off the cables, pulled it out of the pipe and fled with them. It takes two to three days to replace the wires and restore the affected lines, say officials

If cables from any area are being stolen, the detector instantly triggers an alarm in the local MTNL office of the area where the crime is taking place. It shows the exact locality and point where the wires have been stolen from. Officials thus can reach the spot immediately and nab the crooks.

Every year, the body loses wires worth lakhs of rupees. Officials even approached Satyapal Singh, the then commissioner of police, and sought his intervention to help deal with the menace.

The robbery not only caused financial losses to MTNL, but also disrupted services in several areas. MTNL authorities had even thought of rewarding Rs 11,000 to citizens who informed them about the thieves.

Put to use soon
It didn’t take time for the new system, installed in the first week of April, to be tested. On Sunday early morning, an alarm buzzed in the MTNL’s Charkop office that crooks had cut copper wires in the area.

While officials rushed to the spot, the thieves managed to flee with around 10 metres of bulk wire. This affected around 2,000 lines in the area. A case was registered with the Charkop police station on Monday.

According to the Senior Inspector of Charkop police station, Anand Koli, “On Sunday at 4 am, some unknown people cut and stole MTNL’s cables at Sector 8 near Ravi Tower building. MTNL officers registered the complaint with us.”

MTNL’s assistant manager for Charkop, Arjun Bandiwadekar, said, “On Sunday early morning, we came to know of the theft. When they cut the wires, the alarm rang immediately in our Charkop main office. We immediately went to the spot, but failed to nab them.” He further explained that the system had been installed all over the city, and that the alarm rang within a second of the cables being cut. The detectors even show the affected area and locality.

Senior Police Inspector Koli added, “The system will help us nab the accused if MTNL officers inform us immediately after the incident and tell us the location. These incidents have happened in Dadar, Matunga etc, but nobody has been able to catch the thieves red-handed.”

The robbery has cost MTNL Rs 40,000 in cables, in addition to disruption of communication lines of customers. Officials say it takes at least 2-3 days to restore the lines. Peeyush Aggarwal, executive director of MTNL (Mumbai) told this paper, “The officials should have reached the spot in time and nabbed the thieves, but couldn’t do so. The vigilance officer of MTNL’s Charkop area will initiate an inquiry into why this happened.”

The menace of cable thefts
On Jun 22, 2012 mid-day reported that cops had arrested a quartet of thieves. The four men, posing as MTNL workers, managed to steal nearly 1,600 kg of cables from areas like Sion, Dadar, Parel, Byculla, Bhindi Bazaar, Lower Parel and Borivli.

They would operate in the wee hours of the day, and if any bystanders happened to notice them, they would pretend to be MTNL workers deputed for a job to fix cables. With services being affected after the wires were disconnected and stolen, MTNL officials reported losing several clients.

Rs 40 K
Total value of the cables stolen from Charkop

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