The state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) said yesterday that soaring copper prices have led to a sharp rise in thefts of power cables, with culprits even drilling into the ground to steal them.
Copper prices have risen fivefold from NT$57 per kilogram three years ago to around NT$300 per kilogram in today's trading, said Huang Huei-yu (
Thefts of copper cables have shot up as crooks cash in on the trend, he said.
Over the past four years, Huang said, a total of 24,800km of cable has been stolen from the company -- enough to circle the nation 18 times.
This compared with an annual theft of about 100km of wires before 2003, he said.
Officials said the cables have plastic wrapped around copper wires that vary from hairline to thumb sizes. Thefts have been reported by cities where the cables are buried underground and by remote villages where they are erected above ground, they said.
"When they are buried underground, burglars would drill two holes in the ground and pull the cable out," a company official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Huang called on authorities to launch a crackdown on cable theft and also raise the penalties that give a maximum two-year jail term for a convicted burglar. He did not elaborate.
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