Law up stakes on cable thefts

Fadley Faisal

Cable theft and other similar activities which cause disruption to key services will carry more severe punishments following a recent amendment to the penal code, announced the Attorney General’s Chamber (AGC) yesterday.

“With the consent of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the AGC hereby gives notification of the passing of the Penal Code (Amendment) Order, 2021 on October 11, corresponding to 4th of Rabiulawal 1443 Hijrah,” said the AGC.

Amendments were made to Chapter XVII of the Penal Code – which covers offences against property – as measures to stem the proliferation of offences that disrupt key services, such as cable theft, said the AGC, adding that the issue became imperative to address after 20 offenders were prosecuted for cable theft offences from January to September.

“The amendments seek to strengthen the law in relation to property offences by introducing new offences, expanding on current offences as well as enhancing punishments, particularly where such acts cause or are likely to cause disruption to key services,” said the AGC.

Previous cases of cable theft were charged under Section 329 which carried a maximum of three years’ imprisonment, a fine or both and Section 427, which carried a maximum of five years and no less than two strokes of the cane.

A new Section 380B will cover thefts causing disruption to key services while the new section 427B covers ‘mischief’ causing disruption to key services.

Both offences now carry penalties of imprisonment ranging from three to 10 years and between four to 12 strokes of the cane. Some offenders – such as the elderly – may have alternative punishments instead of caning, the AGC said. “In these cases, they may be sentenced to an additional term of imprisonment of up to 12 months.”

Meanwhile, Section 411 and Section 414 which covers receiving and aiding in the concealment of stolen property have been expanded to include situations where stolen property is related to a key service.

“Where an offence under Section 411 or Section 414 has been committed involving stolen property that is related to a key service or any component part of a key service, the amendments provide that the offender shall face a higher maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a fine, or both.

“This is a higher term of imprisonment than if the offence committed did not involve property related to a key service,” said the AGC.