Antigua police probe the discovery of tonnes of stolen copper wire
Police said several pieces of copper were identified as the property of the state-owned Antigua Public Utilities Authority.
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Monday January 16, 2012 – Law enforcement authorities are investigating the discovery of four tonnes of stolen copper wire and air conditioning parts in a container at the St John’s Harbour bound for China.
A Chinese man, 56, and his son were detained last Friday after police received reports that one of them was seen packing the 40ft container with copper believed to have been stolen.
Several pieces were identified as the property of the state-owned Antigua Public Utilities Authority, police said.
Telecommunications company LIME also said some of the items were stolen from its facilities across the island.
The Chinese duo was released after providing proof they purchased the items for an around EC$30,000 (US$ 11,111).
Two businessmen linked to the find have agreed to turn themselves in, The Daily OBSEVER newspaper reported.
The container in which the stolen items were stored supposedly arrived from St Kitts about two weeks ago containing 12 tonnes of similar items and stainless steel materials, the newspaper said.
Authorities have been grappling with an increase in theft of air conditioning units and other appliances as some residents try to cash in on the blossoming scrap metal trade.
This has led to calls for Antigua & Barbuda to implement a ban as was done in the Bahamas and Jamaica.
Last July, the Bahamas government announced a 90 day temporary ban in response to widespread theft of copper and various metals.
This was done a week after Jamaica took similar action, with the authorities estimating that the scrap metal trade has cost government and the private sector more than one billion dollars (US $11.7 million) over three years.