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Johannesburg - Metro police arrested four men shortly after they removed sections of a steel emergency barrier near the Joe Slovo off-ramp on the M2 in Marshalltown on Sunday.
Using brightly coloured pliers and hacksaws, the four managed to cut about a metre of steel and load it onto a stolen shopping trolley.
But the men didn’t get far.
Passing motorists informed metro police, who found them pushing the trolley down the highway.
Metro police Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the council loses large amounts of money each year to property theft, and criminals found committing these crimes would be charged more harshly than other thieves.
“If anyone gets caught doing this, they will not just get charged with theft, they will be charged with theft of municipal and state property… they will face jail time,” he said.
Metro police investigating officer JC Coetzee said that while it takes just minutes for robbers to steal chunks of metal - including manhole covers and other city property - the labour and re-installation of the infrastructure can cost large amounts of money.
The robbers would have received between R500 and R1 000 for the steel if they had made it to a scrap dealer.