ANGRY residents hurled bottles and stones at a Jamaica Public Service Crew when they ventured into the tough community of McIntyre Villa, popularly known as 'Dunkirk' in East Kingston, yesterday to disconnect illegal electricity connections.
The crew, which entered the Brae Street section of the community with a small detachment of cops, had to beat a hasty retreat after which the cops called for reinforcements.
They eventually re-entered the community with a large number of cops who quelled the situation and allowed the crew to complete the task.
The incident was confirmed by head of the Kingston East Police Superintendent Arthur Brown.
"Stones and bottles were thrown at the crew and the police resulting in damage to the beacon light (the flasher) of a service vehicle," Brown told the Jamaica Observer.
Three persons were taken into custody in connection with the incident.
Head of Corporate Communications for JPS Winsome Callum also confirmed the incident.
"Our staff was stoned. No one was hurt and we were able to complete our operation," Callum said.
Apart from Brae Street the crew also disconnected illegal lines at Tower Street, Steven Lane, Water Lane, Mackquary Street and Williams Street in the community. Some 337 illegal throw-ups were removed and 159 idle service wires were disconnected in yesterday's operation.
The company has reported that some $30 million was lost to electricity theft last year and has embarked on a 'Take Back JPS' drive to regularise citizens, including in inner-city communities where energy theft is rampant.
Last week, the light and power company went into Majesty Gardens, also called 'Back To' -- another tough community -- and disconnected 2,857 illegal electricity connections. The company reported that only three premises in that community were found with legal connections.
Two weeks before, the company disconnected more than 2,000 illegal connections in Olympic Gardens and Waterhouse, tough inner-city communities in the Corporate Area.
One person was also arrested in that operation.
The company has also gone into the rural community of Steer Town, where it found that 50 per cent of the community were stealing electricity.
Other communities which have been the target of the anti-theft operation include Southside, Seaview Gardens and Arnett Gardens in Kingston and several communities in western Jamaica.
Last year, JPS reported that 98,000 illegal connections were removed and 62 persons were arrested and charged for illegal abstraction of electricity or for trespassing on the works of JPS.