Suspected transformer vandal arrested in Thika as authorities intensify crackdown » Capital News

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 19 — Detectives in Thika are holding a suspected transformer vandal in whose home they found a cache Kenya Power properties, believed to have been vandalized within Makongeni area of Kiambu County.

The 27-year-old suspect is believed to be part of a wider gang of vandals who lurk in poorly lit streets, before vandalizing transformers for the oil and cables, consequently leaving locals in darkness for weeks.

Detectives found 140 litres of transformer oil, pole climbers, 9 sets of customer interface unit, a winch, a KPLC apron, assorted transformer bolts and nuts, a roll of copper cable, a handheld drill, ropes and a sack of transformer laminators.

Detectives launched manhunt for other known accomplices in the area.

The arrest comes a month after the Kenya Power resolved to work with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to curb the rising cases of vandalism of its equipment.

In the deal, 42 DCI officers will be attached to the utility provider’s security team to stem vandalism, theft of electricity and fiber as well as illegal encroachment of way leaves.

“We have witnessed a recent surge in cases of vandalism and illegal connections across the country leading to unplanned power outages that inconvenience our customers,” KPLC MD Joseph Siror said on November 16.

“The Company is working with various security agencies, including collaboration with the DCI, to tackle these illegal activities,” Siror added.

“We are confident that the partnership with the DCI will boost our capacity to proactively fight vandalism and other crimes through an intelligence-led approach.”

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46pc spike in transformer vandalism

KPLC said it had recorded a 46 percent growth in cases of transformer vandalism, which affected 242 transformers compared to 165 units that were vandalized during the previous year.

“The DCI will continue supporting investigations and protecting the energy sector against criminal activities whenever we are called upon,” aid DCI Deputy Director for Investigations Paul Wachira.

“Through partnerships such as the one we now have with Kenya Power, we will work collaboratively for purposes of following the money trail, especially among those handling stolen copper and oil from vandalized transformers, so that the masterminds of these activities are arrested and prosecuted.”

Since July 2022, a total of 1,026 people have been arrested across the country and prosecuted for various illegal activities within the electricity network, according to DCI reports.

Of these, 472 cases relate to vandalism, theft of energy equipment, and damage to energy infrastructure.

Illegal connections and fraudulent consumption of electricity account for 320, while 33 people were arrested for way-leave encroachment.

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