They had sold the copper from the stolen wires to two scrap dealers in Dechencholing

Crime: Thimphu police have arrested five students of Dechencholing middle secondary school for malicious mischief and larceny, in connection with the theft of electrical wires in Dharina, above Dechencholing, Thimphu.

According to the building owner, Karma Jimba, electrical wires and miniature circuit breakers (MCB) worth over Nu 500,000 were stolen from a building that was under construction.

Police found that the first break-in happened on January 15, followed by another two on January 16 and 17.  The culprits were arrested on Friday, January 23.

One of the accused, less than 12 years old, was handed over to the parents because, as per the Child Protection Act, a child under 12 cannot be detained.  He will attend the trial with the rest of the accused.  Three others were 15 and one 12 years old.

Three policemen in casual dress were sent for four days to Dharina and Dechencholing areas to gather information.  People with criminal records from the area were also investigated.  The policemen checked all scrap dealers in Thimphu and found 27kg of copper from a scrap dealer in Dechencholing.  They found that the boys sold the copper wires to the dealer for Nu 10,000.

The boys confessed to police that another 20kg of copper from the last incident was sold to another scrap dealer in Dechencholing.  The dealer has left for pilgrimage.

Police said they would seek arrest warrants for the two scrap dealers today.

A police official said, despite repeated requests to scrap dealers not to buy scrap that is likely to be stolen property without verifying, the two scrap dealers bought the scrap from the boys.

“The scrap dealers didn’t abide by the law and they’ll be penalised,” the official said. “Buying stolen items encourages youth to steal.”

Copper fetches Nu 250/kg in Thimphu and more than Nu 100/kg across the border in Phuentsholing.

The students told police that, after stealing the electrical wires, they went to the riverside and burned the cover of the wires, and then rolled the copper to sell.

The warning “I will kill you” on the wall, the boys, told police, was written “ just for fun.”  Police confirmed that it didn’t have anything to do with “hard feelings” for the owner or anyone else.

Police found a hammer, a knife and a pair of gloves from the boys.

The boys told police that the two smaller boys were kept outside the building to keep watch, while the three older boys went inside the building to steal the electrical wires.

Four of the boys are in the custody of the women and child protection unit at the Thimphu police station.

By Dechen Tshomo