File picture - Stolen copper cables that were recovered from a scrap yard. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee

Durban - A syndicate of copper thieves and a scrap dealer in cahoots with them have been arrested, KwaZulu-Natal police said on Saturday.

“An undercover operation was held and the team arrested an entire new criminal grouping consisting of eight men,” Colonel Jay Naicker said.

He said the team Ä made up of crime intelligence officers and private investigators for Eskom and Transnet Ä also confiscated 500kgs of contact wire stolen from Transnet in the Hibberdene area.

“A scrap metal dealer and his staff (six in total) were also arrested at their premises in Phoenix and KwaDukuza.”

Police found a vehicle in the yard with 1400kgs of copper that is thought to have been stolen.

The police operation began on Thursday and ended on Friday.

Those arrested will appear in the Hibberdene Magistrates Court on Monday.

“The investigation team is currently probing another thirty cases of theft of copper cable linked to this criminal grouping.”

Naicker said, meanwhile, the case of a syndicate of 18 suspected copper thieves arrested last year was now on the court roll of the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court.

The Hawks were also busy identifying which scrap metal dealers had been linked to this 18-man syndicate.