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Cape Town metal theft arrests increase by 45%

Some of the infrastructure damaged by metal thieves in Cape Town.
Some of the infrastructure damaged by metal thieves in Cape Town.
Image: Supplied

The City of Cape Town’s metal theft unit made 132 arrests during the first six months of the current financial year.

Councillor JP Smith, responsible for safety and security, said this was a 45% increase year on year. The unit made 91 arrests during the same period in the last financial year.

“The city’s metal theft unit continues to see an increase in the number of arrests and confiscations related to the theft and vandalism of critical infrastructure,” said Smith.

Among other items, the unit impounded copper cables, transformers, municipal fencing and street lights.

“The metal theft unit must be lauded for their sterling work under often very trying circumstances. Cable thieves operate under the cover of darkness and often in open fields or other places where the rest of us would hesitate to tread. So one appreciates the efforts of our staff

"But at the same time the arrest and confiscation rate is also extremely disappointing, as it simply underscores once more that metal theft remains one of our biggest challenges,” said Smith.

“The situation was exacerbated by the national lockdown when a lot of infrastructure was left unattended and became easy pickings for criminals. Load-shedding is also a factor, where areas are not only left in darkness but there is no power supply to deter criminals from tampering with infrastructure.

“And, while most incidents are likely opportunistic in nature, one cannot discount the possibility that there is an element of organised crime involved, particularly around the theft of infrastructure that can be sold as scrap metal. We need urgent intervention at national level to reduce the demand for scrap metal, or we will never make our way out of this ever-deepening rabbit hole.”


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