Vol. 5 Num 923 Sun. December 31, 2006  
Star City

Organised gang after electrical transformers
Police suspect involvement of DESA technicians in the thefts

A highly organized gang of criminals is stealing electrical transformers from different city areas causing huge damages and further disruption in electricity supply.

According to Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited (Desco) in the last twelve months 14 electricity distribution transformers have been stolen from areas like Baridhara, Gulshan, Uttara and Kafrul. Most of these stolen transformers are of 100 KVA (kilo-volt ampere) and 200 KVA.

Sources said that in the market each of these transformers costs between Tk 200,000 and Tk 400,000 depending on the KVA capacity. The "highly skilled" gang of thieves sells those in the black market. The demand for these stolen transformers is huge in the city where thousands of housing, industrial and commercial complexes are sprouting in a phenomenon speed. As per the provision of power act, it is mandatory to have own substation where consumer's load demand exceed 50 kilowatt and above. In the black market the price could be less than half of the market price.

Considering the skills and equipment involved in dismounting a live transformer, police believe that some unscrupulous technicians of Dhaka Electricity Supply Authority (DESA) are involved in the crime.

"There is a big risk of electrocution during such an operation so it is not done by someone who is an amateur in this job," said a police source hinting at the involvement of DESA technicians.

An official of Desco also supports the view of the police. "These thieves are so trained that they do the job in darkness and are able to dismount a transformer weighing between 700 and 1000 kilograms," said an official of Desco.

According to police sources, the stolen transformers are usually sold in Nawabpur and in Old town of the city. However, sometimes the thieves steal according to the demand of buyers.

"They (thieves) come on a van, sometimes equipped with walkie-talkies to make them look unsuspicious and completes the job within half an hour," said the Desco official.

Faced with the increasing thefts and consequent power disruption, Desco has now embarked on creating awareness among city dwellers to check the thefts.

"As the incidents are recurring we have planned to create awareness among residents urging them to keep vigil, especially during long public holidays," the official added.

Desco's awareness drive paid off on December 21 when Police Sub-inspector (PSI) Mizanur Rahman from the city's Uttar Khan police station was tipped off about a electrical transformer theft in Tetultala. Rahman told the Star City that eight thieves on a truck were getting away with the stolen transformer when he intercepted.

"We arrested three persons including the driver and his assistant but the remaining five managed to flee the scene," Rahman said.

According to Desco, besides transformers a huge amount of expensive cables are also stolen every now and then by the gang.