Hawks raid copper theft syndicate

2013-11-04 00:00

FOURTEEN alleged copper thieves are due to appear in the magistrate’s court in Hibberdene today.

This follows a nine-month undercover operation by the Hawks and other investigators, which culminated on Friday in a dawn raid.

Six scrap metal operatives from Phoenix in Durban and Stanger, including a dealer and a manager, were arrested as well as eight “country operator” thieves.

They will join 18 alleged syndicate members who have already appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.

Pietermaritzburg Hawks commander Colonel Johan Meeding, who co-ordinated the operation, said that the arresting squad, made up of police and investigators, worked day and night for nearly three weeks preparing for the arrests. They met at 8 pm on Thursday and hit the suspects 10 hours later.

Two managed to escape, but were arrested at noon on Friday.

The 14 will be transferred to Pietermaritzburg.

After a week in custody they are expected to apply for bail.

Meeding said that undercover agents and informers were used and “controlled” deliveries of scrap metal were made to suspects.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said the arrests were made as a result of investigations that began when 18 alleged copper cable thieves were arrested between August and November 2012 by members of the Hawks based in Pietermaritzburg, working in conjunction with Combined Private Investigations (CPI), the security risk provider for Eskom and Trans­net.

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