Rwanda National Police has issued a stark warning against vandalism and theft of power transmission lines and water supply pipes following a rise in the illegal acts in one month. At least 829 cases of vandalism targeting energy transmission and distribution lines were recorded between January and September, according to the Police. The stolen materials include service cables, cross-arms stolen from pylons, earthing wires, underground cables, meters, twisted cables, circuit breakers, surge arrestors, and transformers. The stolen materials, including sign posts, are sold to scrap dealers – a business that is burgeoning in the country. ALSO READ: Police, utility bodies move against vandalism of power distribution lines “Anyone involved in this vandalism of public infrastructure should stop now or they will face severe penalties,” Inspector General of Police Felix Namuhoranye said during a press conference on Wednesday, October 4. Some villages and hospitals have had power outages due to these vandalism cases, he said. Officials from the Police, Rwanda Energy Group (REG) and the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) held a meeting in late September to draw up measures against the mounting cases in the theft and vandalism of utility equipment. The meeting was also attended by scrap dealers and managers of recycling industries ALSO READ: Wasac repairs Kigali’s 'undersized' water pipes in Rwf20bn project Namuhoranye said law enforcement officials have tightened the crackdown against the acts that threaten security and the country’s development. The police chief warned scrap dealers against buying suspicious materials. “Operate your businesses in accordance with the law. Buying equipment stolen from vandalized power lines, road signage, water distribution lines and other public infrastructure will not be condoned and it will call for tough measures against anyone involved,” Namuhoranye said. ALSO READ: Three arrested for vandalism, theft of electric cables Normally, utility items such as manhole covers, electrical and cyber cables and power metres are not considered as scrap unless they are sold by the respective institutions. At least 50 vandals were arrested in September, most of them in the Southern and Northern provinces. Officials say all parts of the country are affected by vandalism and thefts of utility infrastructure, which hamper government targets to provide nationwide access to electricity and water by 2024. More than 12,360 metres of stolen cables have since been recovered.