Cable thieves uncovered

2015-09-08 06:00
Carola neighbourhood watch chairperson Neil Jacobus in front of an open manhole. Criminals open the manhole covers to gain access to the cables inside.

Carola neighbourhood watch chairperson Neil Jacobus in front of an open manhole. Criminals open the manhole covers to gain access to the cables inside.

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A new trend is taking off in Grassy Park, with criminals removing manhole covers to gain access to cables inside.

According to Carola neighbourhood watch chairperson Neil Jacobus, they have had three incidents already in which they noticed manhole covers were removed.

“The three incidents occurred in the space of a few days where the covers were removed and these criminals cut the cables inside. We suspect about three guys who are guilty of these acts,” Jacobus says.

According to Jacobus the thieves use a spanner-like tool to lift off the manhole covers.

“They normally do it during the early hours of the morning when it’s dark. They then cut the cables out and sell it at these scrapyards in the area,” he explains.

Another resident and neighbourhood watch member, Ralph Tejada, says the neighbourhood watch should have more rights entrusted to them so members may successfully apprehend suspects.

“The situation with theft in our area is deteriorating and we need the neighbourhood watch members to have more rights. Our police can’t be all over the place at once so we need to apprehend suspects but also be able to defend ourselves in such situations,” Tejada says.

The members explain criminal activity also tends to take place once the neighbourhood watch ends their patrols at night.

“They become aware of our presence in the area so they wait until we are not around before they come out and carry on their illegal activities. They will stand on corners and signal to each other by means of whist­ling, almost as if to say it is safe to go ahead,” Jacobus says.

Tejada adds that they are provoked by the criminals in the area.

“When we conduct our patrols we book in at the police station to inform them that we will be conducting patrols. Now when we see suspicious characters in the area we ask them where they are going and what they are doing out so late. These suspects walk around with bags on their backs in the middle of the night. We call the police to inform them of the people loitering in the area that time of the night but almost never get assistance from them,” Tejada says.

Jacobus and Tejada have encouraged residents to be vigilant and to report criminal activity immediately.

Grassy Park police spokesperson Warrant Officer Wynita Kleinsmith says that a new trend cannot be confirmed yet.

“No trend has been identified. However, stop and searches and patrols are done by the police,” Kleinsmith says.

She adds that a 27-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday last week at 03:30.

“The visible policing sector was busy with patrols and complaints when the members were informed by a neighbourhood watch that a suspicious male with a bag was walking down Acacia Road with what they believed to be stolen goods. The members then found a man with copper cables and house-breaking equipment,” Kleinsmith says.

The suspect was arrested on charges of possession of stolen goods and of house-breaking equipment

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