Fifteen people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a series of electrical cable thefts in Downtown Beirut, the Internal Security Forces (ISF) announced Tuesday in a statement.
On May 24, the state-owned electricity provider Electricité du Liban (EDL) reported the theft of electrical cables from tunnels in the shopping area of Downtown Beirut, resulting in major damage to the power grid. EDL estimated the cost of repairs needed as a result of the theft at more than $2 million.
In its statement, the ISF announced that its officiers had "successfully carried out" an operation to put an end to a series of electrical cable thefts in Beirut, stating that they had been able to identify and arrest "in less than 24 hours" 10 suspects, all of whom hold Syrian nationality. According to the statement, the arrests included the mastermind of the operation, identified by the initials H.A., who had previously been arrested for similar acts.
Five other suspects were subsequently captured in raids carried out by the ISF in the areas of Chatila (south of Beirut), Taanayel (Bekaa), Deir Ammar (North) and Deir Zannoun (Bekaa).
These operations resulted in the seizure of stolen equipment, including around 35 tons of copper cables and almost 37 tons of copper materials.
The police also seized electrical and hydraulic meters, as well as metal-melting machines "marked +Made in Syria+," according to the ISF. Some 150 meters of electrical cable and an array of tools were also confiscated.
According to the ISF statement, the suspects confessed to having committed dozens of thefts of electrical cables from tunnels in Beirut since last April.
These thefts were committed at night, almost daily, the ISF statement claims the suspects confessed. The cables were then transported to Beirut's southern suburbs, where they were sold to scrap merchants.
The suspects have been handed over to the relevant judicial authorities, while the police are continuing their investigation in order to dismantle the entire network involved in these thefts, the statement concluded.