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Telkom says cable theft costs the South African economy R5billion a year.
The worst year for cable theft was 2001 when Telkom, Eskom and Spoornet reported 20500 cases nationally.
The direct impact on the three organisations amounted to losses of R268million, and the cost to the economy is estimated at 10 times this amount.
Over the next few years cable theft incidences declined until they peaked again last year when 11000 incidences were reported.
The replacement costs for 2006 are still being calculated.
Business Against Crime is currently conducting a study to determine the markets in which stolen copper cable is sold. But it is believed that the record commodity price of copper and the strong demand for the metal from international markets could be behind the increase of cable theft in South Africa last year.
Acting executive of Telkom Asset and Revenue Protection Services Thokozani Mvelase said the phone company's security related costs amounted to over R130million in its last financial year and the company suffered a loss of over R177million having to replace stolen cable and copper wire.
Measures introduced by Telkom to combat the problem include cable alarms, which are activated when cable transmissions are interrupted.
Telkom has also identified areas where numerous thefts occur as hot spots and it concentrates its resources in these areas to try to arrest cable thieves.
The public is encouraged to report any suspicions of cable theft to 0800124000.