Millions of dollars are being invested by some middle- to upper-income households to use sophisticated devices to steal electricity from the grid, intelligence from light-and-power company the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) has revealed.
The efforts of the JPS to cut losses due to theft continue to be frustrated as the new technologies go far beyond the most recognised form of illegal extraction - where dangerous webs are created resulting from wires being flung on to high-tension power lines.
"Many of us focus on what we tend to see when we drive around and, 'well, it's all concentrated in the inner city'. Well, unfortunately, it's all over, and that's something that we need to put a stop to," said Ramsay McDonald, JPS senior vice-president, corporate communica-tions and customer experience, speaking during a public forum on crime and electricity theft held at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies, in Mona, St Andrew, last week.
"We are seeing some very sophisticated systems where people have built into walls, built into their construction to allow for what they may deem to be more efficient use of electricity. But in other words, they are just down-right thieves."
The JPS executive revealed that more than 200,000 households across the country are stealing electricity, causing annual losses of US$70.8 million or 18 per cent of the overall fuel bill.