New modes of thefts have been reported from mobile towers operated by leading mobile operators at several places across the State. These thefts of valuable materials such as remote radio units (RRU) led to the crippling services in the particular area.
Remote Radio Unit (RRU) is a transceiver, an important component at wireless base stations. These transceivers connect wireless devices with wireless networks, making it possible to send and receive text messages, among other things. So far, over 60 RRUs have been stolen in the State in the last six months.
These thefts were reported from the towers located on the private premises and are being operated by mobile service operators in Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Vellore, Villupuram, Kallakurichi, Perambalur, Salem and Thanjavur districts. Following complaints from local representatives of the mobile operators, the police registered cases in the respective jurisdictions. Though suspects were arrested in Salem and Vellore districts, the problem is still haunting the operators. A spokesperson of Airtel said the gang members are suspected to be well-experienced. It seems that the suspects are knowledgeable about the importance of RRUs. Somebody knowingly went and opened the relevant box and took off the materials. Such theft is happening at so many places such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and now Tamil Nadu. “There is nexus between the gang members. These thefts are higher in Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu,” the spokesperson said.
The official said 62 RRUs were stolen in last few months and the main equipment which was stolen led to disturbance of entire eco-system of service. “Stealing wire, generator and batteries are normal but now they target our important component in the tower. This happened in different districts, and we have lodged complaints,” he said.
The installation of each mobile tower with 10 tonnes of steel costs at least ₹50 lakh to the operators. It has other equipment in the tower. The thieves deceive the land owners by introducing themselves as the employees of the mobile operator.
A senior police officer said, “We have arrested suspects in two to three places in Salem, Vellore and Thanjavur. We have formed a special team and are working on to trace the members of the gang.”