Over 500kg of copper, aluminium, brass and other non-ferrous metals were confiscated during a raid on a backyard scrap dealer in Bonteheuwel early yesterday morning (Monday, 6 August 2007).
Acting on tip-offs from local residents, members of SAPS Bishop Lavis and members of the City of Cape Town's Copperheads Task Team swooped on the 'bucket shop' at 33 Loganberry Street at 04:30.
"The joint operation was performed at the insistence of the community who were complaining of regular power blackouts caused by copper cable thefts in the vicinity," says Cllr Pieter van Dalen, Chairperson of the Copperheads Task Team.
"Bucket shops refer to unregistered scrap dealers who usually operate within a residential area. Their primary source of income is derived from copper cables, copper pipes and aluminium objects stolen from streetlights, sub-stations, schools, clinics, and Telkom and Spoornet facilities.
"According to local residents, criminals use bucket shops as quick and easy 'autobanks' to dispose of loot on a 24 hour basis. Thieves, usually drug addicts, use the proceeds to feed their drug habit," says Van Dalen.
The owner of the Loganberry Street bucket shop, Riedwaan Isaacs, was charged for being in possession of possible stolen property, and appeared in court yesterday (August 6).
"The role of the police was to establish whether he was registered as a second hand dealer, and whether he complied with the necessary regulations of the Second Hand Dealers' Goods Act.
"The Copperheads" mandate was to identify any stolen City Council property on the premises, as well as establish whether any by-laws pertaining to zoning, health and fire regulations, had been contravened," says Van Dalen.
"Further operations will be launched to eradicate these heinous practices which are causing untold suffering to the communities whose infrastructure is being destroyed.
"Even the smallest of crimes can blow up into a major crime if it is not nipped in the bud. Residents are fed-up, and the Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille, has given us carte blanche to act against anyone involved in illegal activities.
"To date, the Copperheads have made 82 arrests. The team is working around the clock to respond immediately to reports of bucket shops. We will not hesitate to swoop on owners, regardless of the quantity of stolen items found on the premises.
"I wish to thank SAPS management at Bishop Lavis, and particularly Superintendent Jermyn Marais, the sector crime commander, assisted by Superintendent David Manuels, Captain Faried Ganief, Detective Constable Jerome Kleinbooi and Inspector Kenneth Andries," says Van Dalen.
To report any suspicious activity around substations and power lines theft, the public can call the City of Cape Town's Cable Theft Hot Line on 0800 222 771.
CITY OF CAPE TOWN
TEL: 021 400 2201
Cllr Pieter van Dalen
Chairman: Copperheads Cable Theft Task Team
City of Cape Town
Cell: 083 655 2203