On 27 November 2014, the signatories of the Memorandum on cooperation in preventing infrastructure theft concluded an agreement on cooperation with the German organisation of infrastructure owners – SIPAM.
The statistics showing the scale of metal theft in Poland indicate that the crime of unlawful appropriation of property the most often happens in the border areas: in Silesia, in Lubuskie and Zachodniopomorskie voivodeships. Only in the first half of 2014 owners of the infrastructure located in these areas reported over 3400 cases of theft to the police. Organised crime groups active in the border area commit theft on the territory of one country and sell the loot abroad, therefore minimising the risk of being detected. – We have to restrict this practice, our joint actions with the police will allow for an effective fight against the metal theft – indicates Marzena Śliz, the chairperson of the Memorandum Signatories and the Director of the Department of Infrastructure Development at UKE.
The conference during which the agreement with SIPAM was signed was aimed at discussing joint initiatives to improve the safety of infrastructure in telecommunications, energy and rail sectors.
- I presume that the undertaken cooperation can result in joint, Polish-German preventive activities, which will significantly hinder theft in the border areas and, in the long term, improve the safety of persons using rail, telecommunications and energy infrastructure on a daily basis – underlines Marzena Śliz.
A big advantage of the concluded agreement will also be the cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, which coordinates activities connected with the “Safer Together” project, constituting an effective tool supporting the realisation of statutory activities of government administration authorities and regional self-government for the public safety and security. In October this year the controls of over 170 collection points for scrap metal in the Lubuskie voivodeship were carried out. The action under the code name “Złom” (Polish: scrap metal) was carried out jointly by the police of Lubuskie voivodeship, railway police, as well as Orange and Enea companies. Piotr Kończarek (Orange) indicated in addition: - We have experience from Silesia, where together with the Voivodeship Police in Katowice we have limited the number of thefts by 40%. The establishment of a special unit to fight with infrastructure theft has contributed to that.
Safe infrastructure is a safe society
Theft and devastation of equipment that ensures public safety, happens every day. Due to the thefts of rail infrastructure last year over 9 thousand trains were delayed. Over a million of passengers and hundreds of thousands tons of goods did not reach their destination on time. Thieves and vandals risk their lives and endanger bystanders. Theft and devastation of infrastructure do not only cause loss to infrastructure managers, but most of all to the society and economy.
The signatories of the Memorandum: the Office of Electronic Communications, the Energy Regulatory Office and the Office of Rail Transport work on a proposal of legislative changes. The proposal would introduce changes to trade in scrap metal. Persons who sell scrap metal of a value higher than the defined amount will be paid by bank transfer to an indicated bank account. As the experience shows, in the countries where non-cash transaction model was introduced, the number of thefts dropped significantly.
The Memorandum is an open initiative, in November a letter of intent was signed by Comarch S.A. and the National Institute of Telecommunications.