Metals sought after by thieves for quick money
Brass, aluminium, lead, nickel, tin, titanium, zinc, and copper are some of the non-ferrous metals being sought by water metre and water tap thieves that have hit at least 86 homes in Saxilby Street, Amalinda this month. A kilogram of copper has a market value of R40 and a street value of R20.
Non-ferrous metals are worth a lot more than ferrous metals and are often worth separating. Targeted household items include water meters, water taps, burglar gates and electric gate motors.
The Cambridge police arrested three scrap metal thieves in East London after responding to information that someone was busy tampering with municipal water meters around Baysville area last Wednesday. The suspect, a 27-year-old man was found in possession of a water meter, mandrax tablets and dagga bompies. Further investigations led the police to a scrap dealership on Usher Road in Southern wood. This, after a scrapyard was shut down on Stunhope Street in Southernwood because it led to the crime in the surrounding households with drug addicts stealing burglar doors and post boxes to sell to the dealer.
More water meters and taps were recovered from this dealership and the owner. A 22-year-old was arrested for possession of suspected stolen property.
The suspects appeared in court last Friday facing charges of possession of suspected stolen property and drugs. The alleged thieves will face the wrath of a new law called ‘Damage to Infrastructure’ introduced in 2016 as an update to the Criminal Procedure Act.
Convicted criminals can be jailed for up to 30 years and in the case of a corporate body, it can be fined up to R100 million. “I am perturbed by the theft of non-ferrous metals as these acts disrupt people's daily lives and are a huge inconvenience to our communities,” said Mdantsane cluster commander Major General Henry Vos.
According to Captain Mluleki Mbi, a few incidents have been reported but judging from the 100 cases that municipality refers to, people are not reporting the crime.
Buffalo Scrap metal owner Gary Schroeder has 20 years’ experience as he owns two scrapyards in East London and King Williams Town. He says his wife has been instrumental in a lot of arrests over the years as she reports anybody who brings in scrap metal without proof of ownership and an Identity document. “Legal scrapyards do not buy from such people. In order to buy from a seller, they must produce documentation of ownership. However, there are a lot of scrapyards that bypass this in order to buy the product at around R20 per kilo, therefore maximising their profits when they re-sell. These people are the ones that keep the industry of theft alive,” he lamented.
The biggest damage is the loss of tons of precious water caused by the theft of water metres.