City police chief Datuk Seri Mazlan Lazim said 10 men, aged between 18 and 47, have been arrested around Klang Valley in separate operations on Jan 17 and 19. NSTP/LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR

KUALA LUMPUR: Police believe they have crippled a metal theft ring, dubbed 'Geng Along Besi', responsible for hundreds of missing drain covers in Putrajaya.

City police chief Datuk Seri Mazlan Lazim said 10 men, aged between 18 and 47, have been arrested around Klang Valley in separate operations on Jan 17 and 19.

Drain covers, especially those made of metal, have become the target of thieves recently and residents, growing tired of the problem, have urged the authorities to intervene.

Mazlan said both the Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur police have been working together on the matter and received their break on Jan 17.

"We arrested a 32-year-old man suspected to be one of the thieves at a house in Taman Prima, Kajang."

The arrest, he said, resulted in more raids and capture of the gang members and buyers of the stolen goods.

"We stormed a house in Taman Bukit Mewah in Ampang and detained a 37-year-old man. Both he and the earlier suspect later admitted to stealing some of the covers and selling them to a scrap metal trader in Sungai Chua, Kajang."

Mazlan said the police team then raided two scrap yards in Klang Valley and rounded up eight men, including the owners of the premises.

Police later recovered 80 metal covers, believed to have been stolen by the duo.

"Checks later revealed that the thieves had at least stolen 332 manhole covers in Putrajaya alone. Among the target areas are Presint 8, Presint 11 and Taman Putra Perdana in Presint 1."

"Losses are estimated at nearly RM30,000," he said, adding that all the suspects have been remanded to facilitate investigations.

Meanwhile, Mazlan reminded scrap metal traders against buying stolen items, saying that they could face criminal charges in court as well as have their operating licences revoked.

Early this month, a short video clip has emerged on the social media showing two men in the act of stealing manhole covers at an undisclosed location in Putrajaya, revealing the seriousness of the problem.