Police intensify night patrols as copper theft spirals in Howick

2013-07-25 00:00

HOWICK police officers are clamping down on the copper theft that has been steadily increasing in the area.

While patrolling this past weekend, the police, together with the Pietermaritzburg dog unit, arrested three men who were trying to cut Eskom cables and recovered rolls of stripped cable, a bolt cutter, hacksaw, a bow saw and a spade.

Last week they arrested two other men, who had stolen cables and were busy burning it to strip off the ­copper, at the Mathandubisi informal settlement near Howick.

Howick police spokesperson Captain Lolly Moodley said that over the past three weeks there had been an increase in cable theft and Howick West was the most affected area.

“We must have registered at least eight cases of cable theft just in the last three weeks. We could be at home watching television and the lights would go off — someone has stolen a cable,” Moodley said.

In response to the problem, he said a task team was formed and another shift was added to patrol the area at night.

“In the different police clusters there is always one night shift working, but with the introduction of the task team, another shift made up mainly of support staff is now being deployed to work outside and patrol.”

Moodley said the efforts were yielding results. “We have arrested these people and we will not stop until we deal with all of them.”

Joyce Zingoni, communications and stakeholder manager at Eskom, confirmed that the company was falling victim to cable theft in the Howick area.

“Copper and conductor theft is a widespread problem and individuals or syndicates who engage in these crimes are sabotaging not only Eskom, but the economy of the country.”

She said a total of 17 incidents have been reported to the Howick SAPS since April.

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