‘Don’t steal,’ city warns in new metal theft campaign

City’s anti-metal-theft billboard in Langa. Picture: COCT

City’s anti-metal-theft billboard in Langa. Picture: COCT

Published May 31, 2024


Cape Town - With its new billboard campaign, the City of Cape Town has made it clear that anyone found guilty of stealing metal will likely face up to 12 years in prison.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the City was expanding its patrols, actively rewarding the public for assisting in catching culprits, and using technology to turn up the heat on metal thieves.

“Those stealing cables should know that the City’s new Eye-in-the-sky is now watching and recording hot spots, including with infrared cameras at night,” he said.

The billboard campaign was launched in Langa on Monday, and is centred on a suspect sentenced to 12 years in prison for metal theft in September last year.

The billboards are being flighted at metal theft hot spots around the metro, conveying a direct message to metal thieves.

“The public can help us bust metal thieves, with rewards on offer for information leading to arrests and convictions of metal thieves,” Hill-Lewis said.

Municipal workers in Myrtle Road, Ottery, clear the streets amid a cold front that made landfall yesterday. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

Beverley van Reenen, Mayco member for energy, said 1 120 street light cables were replaced in April 2024 alone.

Between July 2023 and March 2024, the City retrieved more than 1 700kg of stolen metal, including over 53 000m of stolen cabling.

Safety and security Mayco member JP Smith said the law enforcement’s Metals Theft Unit, also known as the Copperheads, made 115 arrests, impounded 10 vehicles, issued over 2 380 fines, and conducted over 1 700 scrapyard inspections over that period.

“We are publicly appealing to scrapyards: instead of buying the stolen cable, keep the thief there and we will pay you a far greater reward than what you will get from selling our stolen cable,” Smith said.

Earlier this month, three suspects hiding in a trench were caught in broad daylight attempting to steal street light cables along the M5 highway.

A 24-hour toll-free tip-off line is available at 0800 110077. Anonymous tip-offs are also welcomed.

Cape Argus