Construction

Building materials stolen ?every day? in UAE

Construction companies and police are pushing to curb building materials theft ? a campaign the firms hope will save them the cost of replacing labourers caught trying to supplement their income by selling on the black market

Trans Middle East, Adsecc

Construction companies and police are pushing to curb building materials theft – a campaign the firms hope will save them the cost of replacing labourers caught trying to supplement their income by selling on the black market, reported The National. “Materials are a lot cheaper than people,” said Charles Mallice, director of operations and training for the security company Adsecc. “People need to be educated so they don’t steal,” he added. “The investigations have gone up. The police are looking into reports of theft a lot more seriously now than ever before.”

He said police hoped to send a message to the workers that there are serious consequences to stealing material from construction sites, even though the items themselves might not be worth very much.

Trans Middle East general contracting general manager Abrar Ali Khan said the greater opportunity to steal construction materials stemmed from the disbanding of a committee four years ago that oversaw the disposal of scraps from building sites in the region.

The panel had established designated areas in the city where contractors could dispose of their unused material. Nowadays, he said, there is a brisk demand for scrap material from collectors who sometimes even bribe or otherwise entice workers to steal.

One of the most commonly-stolen materials is cable, from which the scrap dealers extract the metal, mostly copper. “Cables mostly make good money,” Khan told The National. “If you leave something lying around today, you won’t find it the next day. It is very common.”

A senior police official said the scope of the crime was minor, however, “considering the massive construction projects going on in the capital”. Statistics on the number of recent cases of construction theft were unavailable.

Last month, seven men from Sri Lanka and three from Bangladesh appeared before the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance in two separate cases, charged with damaging and stealing electrical cables from construction sites.

Their lawyers claimed the cables had been dumped and abandoned, and that their clients simply took what had been thrown away. Prosecutors argued that the men cut and stole the cables to sell them to scrap shops.

Two construction companies brought the legal case. The Sri Lankans initially denied the charges, but changed their pleas to guilty. The Bangladeshis all pleaded not guilty. The court will issue verdicts next month.

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