LAHORE - In a good move the Pepco has caught 500,000 electricity thieves in the last 9 months and by taking legal actions against them collected revenue of Rs 3 billion from power thieves in terms of fines and penalties, official sources told The Nation. It is first time in the country that sword of possible FIRs, fines or heavy punishment is hanging over the electricity thieves and it has reduced trend of power theft significantly and helped save electricity for the bill paying public, a senior Pepco official said while talking to The Nation. The ongoing campaign of massive fines, penalties and registration of FIRs against the electricity thieve across the country has compelled general public/consumers to review their per month electricity consumption and keep it in limits so that they may pay bills without steeling electricity and avoid shame in the case of being caught as power thieves, the source further said. In Lahore alone 24,000 electricity thieves have been caught in the recent months and cases/FIRs have been registered against 1,400 thieves and Rs 700 million as fines/penalties has been collected from them. Some thieves were sent to jails while others were imposed heavy fines/penalties in bills giving warning to refrain from dirty power theft crime, which was in fact a crime both against the government and society at large. The districts, which are on the top in power theft include Hyderabad, Bhakar, Peshawar, Lahore, Nawabshah, Multan, Bahawalpur, Quetta, Gujr-anwala, Sahiwal, Rahimyar Khan, Faisalabad, Jhang, Islamabad, Attock, Rawa-lpindi, Jehlum and Chakwal. In Peshawar, about 116,000 power thieves were caught till now and Rs 750 million were collected from them as penalties while 6,300 FIRs were registered against them for steeling electricity. The official said the credit for this also goes to public, which is informing Pepco about power thieves and if people continue to help in identifying thieves, power shortfall/ loadshedding will reduce by 45 per cent, he said. Both plans, controlling on power pilferage/theft and implementation of energy conservation plan, are going hand in hand to pull the country out of the power crisis and good results of the governments efforts are evident by visible decrease in loadsh-edding as well as in public protests. The electricity theft is one of the main reasons for the electricity shortfall and loadshe-dding but now Pepco is after the thieves and soon people will forget to steel power due to the fear of punishment. It has been learnt that one thieve consumes five time more electricity than five bill paying households as those who steel electricity treat it as a free supply and burn it non-stop without paying for it and thus cause heavy loss of revenue to Pepco/Wapda. Sources said in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa majority of people steal electricity or do not pay their bills. This trend makes it difficult for Pepco and its electricity supply companies to run power supply business. The Pepco spokesman told The Nation that crackdown against power thieves would continue across the country with cooperation of public who are pointing out such black-sheep. He said Pepco teams are catching thieves with full proof of theft and it is ensured that no action is started on the basis of doubt only.