MALACCA: Several thieves have made off with the 20 solid cast iron wheels that supported five ancient Portuguese cannons on top of St John's Hills in Bandar Hilir here.
State Housing, Local Govern-ment and Environment committee chairman Datuk Md Yunus Rahmat rushed to the historical site where maintenance works have been going on after being told of the theft.
Each cannon, with its four wheels, weighs between 500kg and 600kg.
“This is a great loss. The perpetrators must be nabbed.
“This is the first time such heavy artefacts have been stolen,” he said after visiting the site yesterday.
He said the wheels were solid cast iron and some had been reproduced in the 1980s to replicate the originals that had been damaged over the years.
The five cannons were originally used by the Portuguese to repel attacks from the sea and land in the 1500s.
Md Yunus said contract workers carrying out the maintenance works at the hilltop discovered the theft at about 8am.
He said the contractor informed Malacca Historical City Council officials who referred the matter to the Chief Minister's office.
Md Yunus said the wheels could have been stolen on Tuesday night as council workers had seen them that morning.
“This could be the work of the scrap metal thieves but it is premature to comment on this. We will leave it to the police to investigate,” he added.
He said the National Heritage Department would lodge a police report today.
He added the state government would also lobby the department to station security guards at St John's Hill.
Md Yunus said security measures at St Paul's Hill should be given priority.
Police officers have been combing St John's Hill and are expected to haul up several workers involved in the maintenance works to facilitate investigations. - theStarOnline