Cape Town - Thieves who tunnelled their way to steal copper cable have left a hole in the city’s pocket.

In December, thieves lifted paving along the high security fence at the city’s Brackenfell Depot and dug their way underneath it to the other side.

The thieves stole 60 metres of copper cable valued at R20 000.

Mayoral committee member for utility services Ernest Sonnenberg said the stolen cable contributed to an annual figure that amounted to millions every year.

The thieves were believed to have used a spade to dig the two-metre-deep trench and a tunnel about a metre long to get inside the yard where the cables were held.

The incident happened at night while security guards were on duty.

Due to the size of the yard, no one spotted the thieves.

“It was noticed in the morning when staff went into the cable yard that cables had gone missing,” said Sonnenberg.

Sonnenberg said it was the first time criminals had tunnelled under high security fencing to get to the yard.

No arrests have been made.

In other incidents in Mfuleni, an estimated 230kg of copper was stolen in December alone.

It was believed that a syndicate was operating in the area.

In two of the incidents the personal belongings of security guards employed to safeguard the sites were stolen while in another incident security guards were forced to dig up cables at gun point.

Sonnenberg said cable theft posed a safety threat to civilians.

“Residents across the city have also suffered damage to their electrical appliances from voltage surges experienced as a result of vandalism to electricity infrastructure. Cases of damaged electrical appliances have been reported city-wide,” he said.

The city has invested R500 000 to repair and to safeguard the cables from future theft by replacing copper cables with aluminium cables.

“We will not give up in our endeavours to ensure a high level of service delivery in Cape Town. I appeal to anyone with information to contact the city’s Metals Theft Unit,” said Sonnenberg.

[email protected]

Cape Times