The group was arrested on Wednesday, November 10, following investigations into the series of vandalism and theft of the solar systems in the two districts.
The suspects were identified as Jean Paul Bagarirayose, 38, and Innocent Uwamahoro, 31, both arrested in Gatsibo; and the trio of Seth Niyorurema, 40, Sylvain Nzirorera, 26, and Eram Niragijumukiza, 35, arrested in Ruhango District.
So far, investigations indicate that five solar panels and four batteries were stolen from houses of the vulnerable beneficiaries.
Police has so far recovered three batteries and five panels from the suspects.
"Jean Paul Bagarirayose and Innocent Uwamahoro were arrested red-handed with three solar energy batteries which were stolen from houses in Rwimbogo Village, Murambi Cell in Kabarore Sector," said Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Hamdum Twizeyimana, the Police spokesperson for the Eastern region.
The vandalized and stolen solar energy systems in Gatsibo were donated by RNP to support the vulnerable communities in Rwimbogo Village.
“The affected beneficiaries in Rwimbogo village reported the series of theft. Police received credible information that Uwamahoro had bought stolen solar power batteries from Bagarirayose. They were both located and arrested, and two batteries were recovered from them,” said CIP Twizeyimana.
Bagarirayose admitted that he was breaking into houses to steal the batteries as people are away running errands.
He added that he sold two batteries to Uwamahoro at Rwf15, 000, each. He could, however, not disclose the whereabouts of the third battery.
Meanwhile, Police recovered five solar panels and one battery from Seth Niyorurema, Sylvain Nzirorera, and Eram Niragijumukiza.
According to the Southern region Police spokesperson, Superintendent of Police (SP) Theobald Kanamugire, three solar panels and one battery were recovered from Seth Niyorurema.
"Niyorurema had just stolen three panels and one battery from houses in Rukeri village, Nyabibugu cell of Mwendo sector when he was arrested red-handed at night," said SP Kanamugire.
Sylvain Nzirorera and Eram Habumukiza were also arrested with one solar panel, each.
The suspects were handed over to RIB for further legal process
Article 166 of the law determining offences and penalties in general states that; any person convicted of theft is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than one (1) year and not more than two (2) years and a fine of not less than Rwf1 million and not more than Rwf2 million, community service in a period of six (6) months or only one of these penalties.
In article 167, the penalty for theft doubles if the offender committed the crime through burglary, climbing or possession of keys other than the owner; the theft is carried out in an occupied house or in a building used for habitation or in its surroundings.