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Johannesburg -

Their disguise wasn’t enough.

They had come in reflector jackets and had a flashing yellow light on top of their vehicle.

They seemed to be maintenance men, at first glance, but these were alleged decoys in the theft of a solar power system used to run traffic lights on the corner of the M1 and the Booysens off-ramp.

Two suspects were caught after the thieves were spotted on CCTV, allegedly dismantling and stealing the uninterrupted power supply (UPS) unit.

Metro police arrested them early last week.

“We applaud the police and the security company involved in this quick arrest,” said Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) spokeswoman Bertha Peters-Scheepers.

She added that the case had been taken off the court roll temporarily for further investigation.

The incident is being investigated by the Booysens police.

The UPS stores energy produced by solar panels. This is then used to power traffic lights during blackouts.

Starting a year ago, the JRA installed 200 UPS and 20 solar panels at intersections in Joburg. But recent vandalism and theft have affected the initiative.

“The deliberate sabotage of the UPS and solar power equipment at traffic signals is a new tendency which has escalated over the past few months,” JRA managing director Skhumbuzo Macozoma said.

“Out of 200 panels, only 52 are operational and the total removal of one solar panel installation was necessitated following its repair on three occasions.

“With this latest spate of vandalism, the ongoing viability of providing an alternate power source for traffic signals is currently being investigated.”

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The Star