Collectively we can free our communities from theft and vandalism because these twin evil affects us all. We can free our communities and country if we pay attention to what is going on around us and we are on the lookout for odd movements and behaviour. We should be quick in reporting suspicious activities.


At some point, Nigeria was losing up to four hundred thousand barrels of crude oil to theft per day. Aggrieved militants protesting despoliation in the Niger Delta and seeking more resource control often blow pipelines, causing untold economic damage to the country. Elsewhere within Nigeria, vandals break-open pipelines running through their neighbourhoods to scoop petroleum for sale. On bridges, we see missing rows and columns of aluminum guardrails. They did not just get lost, someone removed them for sale; for a few bucks. Theft and vandalism are despicable intentional acts involving the outright stealing or destruction of another person’s, group’s or public property. The stealing of crude oil, petroleum, guardrails, electric cables and copper wires are not borne of desperate need. They are selfish, senseless, heartless acts of economic sabotage and vandalism.

The theft of public property has grown to involve the ridiculous, such as the stealing of sand and gravel from construction sites. Unlike crude oil theft that brings in mega millions to the criminal masterminds and their cartels, stealing oil and copper wire from electric transformers and sub-stations appears to be a death wish. Stealing guardrails may be a quick way to make a buck but packing heavy stuff like sand and gravel seems beyond the pale. Many thieves and vandals even recruit young children to help facilitate their theft. The soaring price of metals like aluminum and copper, main components in the manufacture of electric distribution lines and the perception that scrap metal theft is quick, easy and harmless may be responsible for the increase in thefts of copper and aluminum.

Money is not the sole factor driving these thieves and vandals. The lack of monitoring, arrest and prosecution is. How many people have been arrested and convicted for oil theft and vandalism? If money is the sole aim of these thieves, the stealing of guardrails or granite is not lucrative enough to motivate this. Given the average sales volume, and payout, the best a thief might gain on a good day will be just enough to fetch a decent meal. The amount realised from these kinds of theft is never worth the effort and the risk involved, if we were a nation of laws.

Neighbourhood vigilante groups, if properly implemented, can also serve as strong deterrents to potential criminal activities. Together we can make our communities and the country better by monitoring our neighbourhoods to prevent criminal activities and by exposing the criminals among us.


Part of the inefficiencies involved in power generation and distribution in Nigeria is due to theft and vandalism. We all should be concerned. For example, copper theft is a dangerous crime. It causes power outages, puts lives at risk because it’s theft removes earthing, and replacing it each time increases the costs of doing business. With each theft, there is an associated replacement cost that the company absorbs or passes on to its customers. Theft and vandalism losses, in public or the private sector, increases exposure to risk and insurance premiums.

Collectively we can free our communities from theft and vandalism because these twin evil affects us all. We can free our communities and country if we pay attention to what is going on around us and we are on the lookout for odd movements and behaviour. We should be quick in reporting suspicious activities. It will help send a strong message to those with malicious intent. Neighbourhood vigilante groups, if properly implemented, can also serve as strong deterrents to potential criminal activities. Together we can make our communities and the country better by monitoring our neighbourhoods to prevent criminal activities and by exposing the criminals among us.

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo