City of Cape Town recovers 1.7 tons of stolen metal, apprehends 115

Cape Town: The City of Cape Town has recovered 1.7 tons of stolen metal and arrested 115 after a 12-year prison sentence for metal thief. The public helped the combat cable theft with 70% more reports in 2023-24.

City’s Metal Theft Unit is also known as Copperheads that continues to battle the wave of cable theft.

Followed by the wave of cable theft that particularly included the street lights, City of Cape Town turned up the heat on metal thieves with more than 1700 kilograms of stolen metal.

Reportedly, the stolen metal was recovered in nine months between July 2023 and March 2024 by Law Enforcement’s Metals Theft Unit which is also known as the Copperheads.

photograph of recovered stolen metal
photograph of recovered stolen metal

More than 53,000 metres of stolen cabling was recovered over the period, with the unit also making 115 arrests that also included securing the 12-year prison sentence for a metal thief.

As per the sources, Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and member of the Mayoral Committee for Safety and Security – Alderman JP Smith has joined the metal theft unit for a ride-along, on May 09.

The City of Cape Town is further repairing and replacing the stolen cables and vandalised the street lights at record pace, with 1120 street lights cable replacements in April 2024.

In some parts of the city, the repaired poles are suffering repeat cable theft immediately. The policing operations of the city have responded to 70% more metal theft complaints than the previous year, showing that the public is involved more in helping to combat the criminal activity.

Total of 519 reports have been received by the City of Cape Town of metal theft from the public in 2023-24, comparing to 304 that were received in 2022-23.

Over the past nine-months, the officials have conducted 1,715 inspections of scrapyards and bucket shops and 2,145 hotspot patrols. Ten vehicles were impounded with 2,382 fines that were issued for various by-law transgressions.

Photograph of Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis
Photograph of Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has conveyed a message in which he said, “Our message to metal thieves is simple: don’t steal cable, we will catch you.”

He further stated, “Last night in Mitchells Plain, I was pleased to see residents enthusiastically providing the metal theft officers with tip-offs of suspected stolen cable locations.”

“We also witnessed the officers bust three suspects in the act of burning cables from a nearby traffic light. Those stealing cable should also know that the City’s new Eye-in-the-sky is now watching and recording hotspots that included with infrared cameras at night,” explained Mayor Lewis.

Mayor Lewis, added to his statement that the public can help then in busting metal thieves by calling the city’s 24-hour toll-free tip-offs by contacting them. The Rewards are on offer for information leading to arrests and convictions of metal thieves.

Considerably, Alderman JP Smith said that the confiscations are an indication that we are not dealing with just small operators. In fact, some suspects are being caught with the considerable amounts of stolen goods.

The caught has led to rise bigger questions about the level of organisation involved in it and has continued with the vulnerability of critical infrastructure.

“The legislative capital of South Africa is throwing many resources at this problem, as they can’t do it alone. Something has got to give at a national level, to tighten the screws on cable thieves and take the shine out of the illicit scrap metal trade,” said Alderman Smith.