Copper thieves target water meters

Officials work at a residence in Grassy Park where a water meter was stolen.

Police and residents’ associations have pleaded with people to be on the lookout for water meter thieves.

According to councillors there has been an increase in theft and vandalism of old copper water meters. This usually leads to thousands of litres of water flooding properties and streets – and some residents are left without water for days.

Ward 68 councillor William Akim said over the past few weeks there had been several cases reported. “The guys doing this operate at night and in the early hours of the morning, leaving residents without water for days when it’s not reported.”

He said in the space of one week 10 copper water meters had been stolen in Grassy Park, Lotus River and Fairways.

Water gushes at a property where the water meter was stolen.

Mr Akim pleaded with scrapyard staff not to buy the stolen water meters. “It costs the City of Cape Town millions of rands to replace the water meters, money that could have been spent on other projects. Community members must please be aware and report any offenders by calling 086 010 3089.”

Grassy Park resident Julian Simons’ water meter was stolen last week. “It happened in the early hours of the morning. When we woke up the water was gushing down the road and we didn’t have water for two days.”

He said it happened to a few of his neighbours as well. “They know when the neighbourhood watch patrols so they wait till it’s quiet then they rip the water meters out leaving us waterless and lots of water going to waste.”

The Simons household was then fitted with a plastic water meter.

Between July 2020 to May 2021, a total of 137 brass water meters have been stolen in the Grassy Park, Retreat and Steenberg areas.

Xanthea Limberg, the City of Cape Town’s Mayco member for Water and Waste, said they were aware of the many incidents.

She said the City had therefore changed from brass water meters to plastic ones which have very little or no scrap value.

She encouraged residents to report incidents of general vandalism and theft to the South African Police Service or the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre on 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline.

The spokespersons for Grassy Park and Steenberg police stations said they had registered cases of water meter theft and vandalism. Steenberg spokesperson Sergeant Wesley Twigg said a suspect had been arrested after he was found in possession of water meters.

It is important to get a reference number when reporting the theft of water meters, vandalism damages, sewer blockages, missing drain covers, burst pipes, leaks and water wastage using one of the following channels .

To report you can also go to:

  • email
  • SMS to 31373 (Type a maximum of 160 characters and standard rates apply.)
  • Call 0860 103 089
  • Visit a City walk-in centre.