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GREAT BAIT: STOLEN PHONES HELP NET FISH

Published: Wednesday, April 24 1996 12:00 a.m. MDT

Something fishy is going on in Borneo: Fishermen are stealing pay phones and using them as electronic bait.

In the past year, about 900 of the 3,500 Telekom Malaysia pay phones were stolen in the state of Sabah on Borneo Island, according to Ahmad Zaini Mohammad Amin, a senior company official."Even our telephone manufacturer in Italy was baffled by the thefts," he told local newspapers.

An investigation revealed that fishermen had cut off the handsets, connected them to high-powered batteries and lowered them into the water. The electricity passing through the microphones produced a high-pitched sound that attracted fish into their nets, Ahmad said.

Fisheries Department Director General Shahrom Abdul Majid told the newspapers that explanation makes sense.

He noted that some aquariums in Japan release piped music into tanks and the fish move to the rhythm. "It almost looks as if they are dancing," he said.

The criminal innovation came to light because of the unusually high number of telephone thefts last year.

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