Police in Ratanakkiri province are seeking a gang that has been stealing electrical wiring from government offices across the provincial capital of Banlung in a wave of petty thefts since September, officials said Monday.
Hundreds of meters of electrical wiring have been stolen from outside the provincial departments of tourism, education, health, and even the provincial police headquarters and hospital, officials said.
“We have received a complaint from different departments on this issue. Even our police station has had more than 300 meters of electrical wire stolen,” Provincial Police Chief Ray Rai said.
Police suspect that a local group of gangsters working by night in connection with electricians are behind the crimes. “We know these thieves and what their names are but we have no evidence to arrest them,” Ray Rai said.
Ray Rai said that there has been no new thefts since police started conducting night patrols around government departments two weeks ago.
Electrical wiring sells for about $1 per meter, according to Tranuth Sean, director of the provincial tourism department. “We have had electrical wire stolen three times and each time we have no electricity to use for one or two days,” he said. “[Wiring] is difficult to protect,” he added.
At one point, the provincial hospital’s tuberculosis ward went without power for a day following a theft, said Tha Bunthak, deputy director of Banlung operational health department, which oversees all the clinics and hospitals in the province. “We had 60 meters of electrical wire stolen during the night,” he said. “Electrical wires for almost all provincial departments are being cut,” he added.