Residents and the management committee of the private urbanisation Sierra Gorda in Coín have decided to combat underground cable theft by capping manholes on the estate with concrete. The move comes after thieves recently stole 200 metres of streetlight wiring by tying the underground cables to a car and pulling the copper straight out of the ground, leaving the urbanisation’s management committee facing a bill of 6,000 euros to replace the stolen wiring.
Sierra Gorda’s President, Ralf Pirzl, explains that capping manholes with concrete follows previous attempts to stop the repeated thefts by filling the manholes with sand and welding the covers shut, neither of which stopped thieves from taking a total of over 800 metres of cabling from the estate during one recent raid.
The urbanisation is privately owned and run, so the costs of the repairs fall on the owners of the 410 plots, although Ralf points out that less than 50 per cent of the plots are currently occupied. “We are trying to cover the replacement costs without raising community fees and we have managed to make savings in some other areas of the management of the estate. We are responsible for the street lighting, water, gardens and roads in what is Coín’s largest urbanisation, so for me and the seven other members of the committee, it’s a bit like running a small town hall.”
As well as the financial cost of stripping the cables from the streetlights, Ralf is keen to point out that there are health and safety issues at stake. He says his own father fell off a pavement in the dark last year and died two days later as a result of his injuries and adds “It is sad when we are doing so much to improve life here, like installing a park and creating gardens, just to have the electric wiring stripped for the scrap value of the copper, which by the way, is a fraction of what it costs us to replace. I think the metal merchants who deal in stolen cable are just as guilty as those who take it in the first place.“
Ralf and the rest of the residents hope that concreting over the manholes will prevent more wiring thefts.