After four years of absorbing tens of millions of US dollars in losses due to electricity theft, and appealing to Jamaicans to stop the illegal activity, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) says it is now ready to name, shame and prosecute offenders.
The company’s position is stated in its ‘Energy Matters’ column published on page 18 of today’s
Jamaica Observer and written by its director of revenue security, Major George Kates.
“We now strongly believe that if we do not prosecute, name and shame, we cannot win. We will therefore be working more closely with the police to make arrests and prosecution a major part of our anti-theft strategy going forward,” Major Kates stated.
He said that, in the past, the company declined to push the authorities to arrest and prosecute people caught stealing electricity, particularly customers who immediately pay or make arrangements to pay all outstanding amounts.
“The company’s focus is usually on recovering the outstanding amounts. We are finding, though, that people are using this as a cheap and easy way to boost their cash flow — essentially taking an unauthorised interest-free loan from JPS and promptly paying up when caught. Accordingly, JPS will now work harder with the police force to secure arrests,” Kates said.
Yesterday, the company disclosed that in 2015 it took down 205,300 throw-ups – basically crude, illegal connections found mostly in depressed communities – while 783 people were arrested for electricity theft that resulted in a loss of US$18.8 million to the company.
While the total electricity theft loss for last year was not yet available, JPS said almost 900 arrests were made and more than 150,000 illegal lines removed.