Thieves will steal anything to make a buck

2015-06-30 06:00
This drain cover frame was dug out of the concrete pavement in Rocklands two weeks ago. The person responsible had attempted to sell the frame for scrap. The City of Cape Town said although unusual, the practise is not something new.

This drain cover frame was dug out of the concrete pavement in Rocklands two weeks ago. The person responsible had attempted to sell the frame for scrap. The City of Cape Town said although unusual, the practise is not something new.

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Thieves will stop at nothing to ensure a few extra rand at the scrap yard.

Recently, a local Ward Councillor discovered that after stealing the metal drain covers, thieves returned to finish the job.

Elton Jansen, Ward councillor for Rocklands and Strandfontein, said he received a tip-off that the frames that house the metal drain cover had been stolen.

“I went to the scene and called the Metro Police. We then followed the man to a scrap yard near by,” Jansen said.

According to information received, it is understood that the drain covers are stolen and then the next day thieves return to finish the job by digging the metal frame out of the concrete pavement to sell for additional scrap.

On average the City of Cape Town spends millions of rands to replace stolen covers, valves and other infrastructure.

Last year this amounted to R13,5 million said Mayoral Committee member for Utility Services, Ernest Sonnenberg in a recent statement.

“In fact, the cumulative cost to the City due to metal theft is R40,3 million since January 2012 to the end of last year. In this period we had to replace nearly 18 000 individual assets across the city. In the case of manhole covers, one should also bear in mind the danger that their removal poses to residents and the consequential costs of blockages due to inappropriate objects landing up in our sewer pipelines when the manhole covers have been removed,” said Sonnenberg.

He said that although this is difficult, the theft of frames is not something new to the City.

“Removing the frame is more difficult than removing the cover, which makes this even more unusual than theft of simply the cover. However, it is not a new practice at all and has occurred for as far back as officials can recall. It is likely to occur in instances where perpetrators have more opportunity, such as in a concealed area or not in a road,” Sonnenberg told People’s Post.

He said that remedial action to curb the theft are in place.

“The City is replacing these structures with ones made of ductile iron, which has no scrap value. Theft still does occur by individuals who are not aware that they have no value, but once they take the items to a scrap dealer they will find themselves unable to sell it. It is also now standard to specify to developers to use a unit with a hinged cover, which makes it more difficult to remove. In areas where there is no traffic pressure on the manhole cover, stolen units are replaced with polymer material, which also has no scrap value,” Sonnenberg said.

The cover theft has also been spurred by many illegal chop-shops and scrap yards operating in Mitchell’s Plain.

Richard Bosman, Executive Director for Safety and Security for the City of Cape Town, said they are not mandated to close any of these shops, but steps are being taken to curb the problem.

“It must be noted that the South African Police Service has the powers under the Second Hand Goods Act to close down scrap yards. The City cannot close down scrap yards, but can enforce land use contraventions. If there is a land use contravention, a fine can be issued by Law Enforcement or an arrest made if stolen goods are found on the premises. The City, in conjunction with the police, can take action against scrap yards under the Second Hand Goods Act,” he said.


To report metal theft call your local police station or the Metro Police Copperheads on 0800 222 771. Furthermore, any missing manhole covers should be reported to the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089 or by sending an SMS with the location of the problem as well as a short description to 31373 (maximum 160 characters)


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