Cable theft ‘epidemic’

Roads in Retreat have been plagued by cable theft in the past few months.

Cable theft in Retreat is at an all-time high and the City of Cape Town is urging the community to help stop the scourge while residents are looking to the City and police to step in.

According to Ward 72 councillor, Kevin Southgate, the spate of cable theft is at “epidemic proportions”.

Mr Southgate said he receives daily reports from residents about overhead cable theft leaving them without electricity every other week, sometimes for days at a time.

As a result, an appeal has once again been made to Retreat residents and the police to help stop cable theft in the area while further measures by the City are being put in place (“Residents’ urged to help stop cable theft,” Southern Mail, February 10,).

In Boundary Road, cables were again replaced last week after they were stolen five times in two weeks towards the end of last month.

They were replaced by the City’s electricity department but the days following the replacement, cables were stolen along Joe Marks Boulevard, as well as Sixth, Seventh and Eight avenues in Retreat.

Boundary Road resident Charlotte September recalls at least three times her electricity has been off.

“For the past few weeks there has been cable theft and we were left without electricity,” said the pensioner.

“It is becoming out of control and there seems to be no end to it. The loss of electricity puts us in danger because we become targets for criminals when it’s dark. Police and the City need to come up with a solution soon,” said Ms September. Another Retreat resident, Jeffrey Shanker is considering moving because of the constant power interruptions.

“I rent a separate entrance but I think it’s time for my family and I to find another place to rent in another area because cable theft is becoming a problem. It’s an inconvenience and it puts my family’s life in danger because we are sitting ducks when the electricity is out,” said the father of two.

Mr Southgate said residents were partially doing their part through neighbourhood watch patrols but added that more needs to be done.

“Neighbourhood watch members patrol but these criminals clearly appear to be one step ahead. They strike when the neighbourhood watch goes off duty.

“What is of further concern to me is that when I approached police to assist they informed me that no one had reported the incidents of cable theft, hence there are no cases open which would have showed them that this was a crime hot spot,” he said.

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“This means that it is important that residents report when they see these criminals. We need all hands on deck and all eyes to be alert,” said Mr Southgate.

“The police are, however, now aware of the issue and will monitor the situation. It is a big area so police won’t be able to patrol the entire area at all times so we need the input from residents,” said Mr Southgate.

The City of Cape Town’s electricity department has since replaced cables with aluminium ones that don’t have much trade value.

Another solution the City of Cape Town is planning is to bury the overhead circuitry cables underground. It has been done at a section of Boundary Road but this long-term solution can’t be implemented throughout the area as it will only be considered in the new financial year said Mr Southgate.

Between July and December last year, the electricity services department recorded a loss of more than R9 million because of stolen or vandalised equipment.

Ernest Sonnenberg, the City’s Mayco member for utility services, said the City condemns these crimes adding that it’s not only costing the City to repair or replace infrastructure, but the theft also causes blackouts, which affects businesses and homes.

The City also has a reward system in place for information that leads to the arrest of cable thieves or the recovery of stolen goods.

Steenberg Police spokesperson Warrant Officer John Bartlett confirmed that they are aware of the increase in cable theft in the Retreat area.

“The theft of cables is a concern and therefore patrols have been intensified to eradicate the scourge. Residents are urged to report any suspicious persons and vehicles in order for the police to respond,” he said.

To report cable theft or for tipoffs to the Copperheads Unit, residents can call 0800 222 771 or 021 400 2828.

Steeneberg police can also be contacted on 021702 9000 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111.