Johannesburg - The Copper Theft Barometer increased in March to R11 million, from R10.7m in February, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said on Thursday.

This was 10 percent higher than the previous year, and above the 2013 monthly average of R10.5m, it said in a statement.

“The relatively low monthly volatility in the series over the past 13 months would suggest that R10m has become the new initial benchmark,” Sacci said.

“While this is certainly a positive development... it is still a very high number.”

The Copper Theft Volume Indicator increased in March to 153 metric tons from 136 metric tons in February.

“The outlook for reduction in copper theft levels for 2014 remains relatively optimistic,” said the chamber.

“Once the R10m a month benchmark is established, the next benchmark should be set below R5m a month.”

It said the lower copper price was likely to contribute to a downward trend in copper theft. - Sapa