Ghana: Community Members Act to Stop Theft of Vodafone Cables

Community members have started to act against cable thieves who have been plaguing the telecommunications industry with the theft and destruction of copper and fibre cables which was affecting the quality of service.

Three persons on three different occasions spotted suspicious activity in the middle of the night, and called the local police to make a report.

These actions have led to the arrest of youth in three areas of the Greater Accra Region, and have averted thousands of Ghana cedis revenue loss to Vodafone Ghana, the operator affected by these thefts.

At Mile 7, a young lady spotted six young men with an unbranded truck attempting to pull cables out of a manhole in front of a kiosk at 2:00 a.m.

Suspicious, she reported it to the police who confronted the group and apprehended two of them. The damage averted by the quick action by the young lady was in excess of GH¢60,000, not to mention the voice and internet network outage that would have been experienced by the local community.

The next morning there were reports of another act of bravery by a group of people who had volunteered to patrol the Middle East area of Ashaiman, after numerous cable thefts had left them without Vodafone services on several occasions.

They apprehended two youths, who were known to collect scrap in the area, at 1:00 a.m. after they were trying to drive away with metres of copper cables. The damage caused at the site was in excess of GH¢25,000, and would affect 1,000 customers.

Another act of bravery was effected by a staff member of Vodafone, who spotted six youths pulling underground cables into a truck at 4:00 a.m. He approached the group, and with the help of passersby, apprehended two of them, he then called a team member from the Corporate Security Unit at Vodafone, and together they escorted the suspects to the police station.

The damage caused in that incident was in excess of GH¢50,000 and affected 1,200 Vodafone customers.

Michael Mbroh, Head of Corporate Security, commented on the actions of individuals. "We are very grateful for the diligence and bravery of these community members. Cable thefts cause Vodafone Ghana huge financial losses, but I think customers are now beginning to feel the impact of the actions of these thieves on their ability to communicate. We don't ask customers to approach the suspects, but we do urge them to report any suspicious activity to the nearest police station, or call our shortcode 155 - it is manned twenty four hours a day by a member of staff from our security department. We can only stamp out the menace of cable theft if we work together with the police and members of the community, as we are all affected by these illegal acts.

"We're appealing for our customers to 'own the Network' in their areas, and stay vigilant."

Network customers are becoming increasingly frustrated by the service interruptions caused by the indiscriminate cutting and theft of copper cables.

The Corporate Security Department at Vodafone Ghana is working very closely with the police to make sure all suspects are prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and police informers appropriately rewarded.

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