Monday, November 24, 2008

Power thieves go hi-tech

Power thieves go hi-tech

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Bescom officials are coming up with new technologies to crack down on power theft. But the offenders are finding newer ways to outsmart them, find Amit S. Upadhye and Chetana Belagere
Power theft is not new, but the methods adopted today to steal power in the city certainly are.

As an alert electricity supplying agency came out with newer technologies to stop tampering of meters by power thieves, they in turn have invented newer methods to accomplish their pur pose. In many homes today airconditioners, washing machines and water heaters are run on stolen power, say Bescom officials who have come across the practice in the course of their inspections. It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of power generated in the state is lost either commercially or technically.

“Sophisticated power thieves either use elaborate bypass systems or tamper with internal mechanisms of the meter. Any electrician can tamper with the meter by just cutting off a small wire. Instead of taking power supply after the wire crosses the meter, the thieves intercept the line before the meter box,'' the officer explains. “Using high-powered magnets is the oldest method of stealing power, which is still in vogue today. The magnets are installed in the meter cupboards to stop the meter running. Once the magnets are removed, the meter restarts. These magnets leave some scratches, so now people are wrapping them in cloth before fixing them,” he adds.

The vigilance officer says special teams have been formed to inspect industrial units and households for power thefts. “We have been gathering intelligence since the last two months and the teams are gearing up for surprise raids across Bengaluru.

Special teams have also been formed in all the divisions of Escoms across the state to check power theft,” say Bescom officials, who feel this is the only way to stop the practice.


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