SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The City’s Metal Theft Unit, known as the Copperheads, is ramping up its operations, with more arrests and more staff doing hotspot patrols than ever before.
184 suspects were arrested during July last year and June this year, a 14% increase from the same period the previous year.
The unit also increased its hotspot patrols by 42%, with thousands of fines and compliance notices issued to scrapyards.
The City’s MMC for Safety and Security JP Smith the scale of the problem is massive.
Over a three month period (April – June 2023), the unit confiscated over 4500 kilograms of stolen metal, and 405 metres of cable, compared to 537 kilograms (metal) and 238 metres (cable), during the corresponding period in the previous year.
Smith says in spite of ongoing challenges, a handful of recent convictions offer a bit of a silver lining.
In recent months, the Copperheads has been notified of a few cases dating back to 2020 and 2021, that have been finalised, including:
Two convictions in the Parow Regional Court in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act, with sentences of three and four years respectively
A 12-year sentence handed down in the Wynberg Regional Court in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act
Smith says while it is satisfying to see the efforts of staff come full circle, it’s a difficult road ahead and the City is working to forge improved ties with the National Prosecuting Authority and SAPS in this regard.
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