Hundreds of water meters, drain covers and copper cabling have been confiscated during a massive police raid on South African Metal in Bofors Circle, Epping in Cape Town.
The recent raid on the scrap metal giant was a joint operation between South African Police Services (SAPS), Copperheads and other staff from the City of Cape Town, Telkom, Eskom and Metrorail.
"This was one of the first search and seizure raids of this magnitude and SAPS played a leading role. I would like to thank all the role-players for their co-operation in this successful operation," said head of the city's copper theft task team (copperheads), Pieter van Dalen.
The latest blitz included a search-and-seize operation at SA Metal, four roadblocks and a shakedown of second-hand dealers. Investigators spent hours sifting through mounds of scrap, identifying water meters, drain covers and Eskom, Telkom and city wiring.
Of the 130 water meters found on the premises, at least 32 were positively identified as belonging to the City of Cape Town.
"Serial numbers on the meters and drain covers are being checked and in-depth investigations are being conducted," confirmed Mr van Dalen.
The blitz also led to the recovery of two stolen vehicles, the confiscation of R16 000 in counterfeit money, 13 drug-related arrests and issuing R150 000 worth of fines for various offences.
"Stolen property found on trucks making deliveries to the scrap yard could also lead to the prosecution of truck drivers and occupants," warned Mr van Dalen.
The raid followed complaints from business owners in Epping Industria about the ever-increasing influx of scrap dealers, criminal activity and traffic congestion around Bofors Circle.
The night before the raid, a person was murdered for the scrap metal in his possession.
According to the Epping City Improvement District (ECID), criminals have become so brazen that they even obstruct traffic and then steal the wheel rims off vehicles stuck in the traffic jam.
Robbers strip vehicles in full view of the public, while others openly make fires on the pavements to burn copper. Personnel in the area are often robbed of cellphones and cash.
"Ratepayers are grateful to the city officials for organising this huge operation and is assisting in follow up actions," ECID co-ordinator, Tony Bartram said.
The copperheads will be visiting scrap yards more frequently to ensure that they are complying with regulations. This is terms of the Second-hand Goods Act.
Explaining the Act, Mr van Dalen said those not yet in possession of a second-hand goods licence but who have applied for one, may not trade until they have been granted an official certificate.
A receipt to prove that you have applied for one is not acceptable, he said.
"We will adopt a zero tolerance approach and those who contravene the law will be closed down and even locked up. We've had smaller raids in the past but we want to show that we are not afraid to tackle the big guys." - BuaNews