LANDLORDS BEWARE OF CABLE THEFT FROM VACANT BUILDINGS
We have recently seen a marked increase in premises that have been broken into when they are vacant. In fact, two of the properties which we have leased this month have been broken into before the tenants have even had a chance to move in, and in both cases the damage caused by the theft of cables and pipe has been immense. It is also completely disproportionate to the value of the materials stolen. Water can run all weekend destroying ceilings and carpets, and the cost of rewiring when conduit piping is blocked is very high. The thieves seem to know that the power to a vacant building will be turned off and there will not be a working or monitored alarm system. Landlords are also warned that often in terms of their policy, insurance companies need to be notified when a property is vacant, or they will not honour your claim.
DA leader Helen Zille has even called for a “problem business by-law” that will empower the City of Cape Town to shut down scrapyard dealers selling stolen copper, and other undesirable entities and said there should be a limit or ban on the trade of copper.
“This is a drastic step, and the DA is not in the business of closing down enterprises. We want to make it easier, not more difficult, to do business and create jobs. But cable theft is destroying jobs, and has the potential to destroy thousands more… And if the police cannot stop these brazen criminals, then other measures are needed,” said Zille.“Here we need to take our cue from cities in countries like the Netherlands, where mayors or city managers have the authority to identify and shut down undesirable businesses. A ‘problem business by-law’ in the city will empower us to summarily shut down dealers trading in stolen copper. Stealing from the state must carry real consequences.”The metro has a problem building by-law which enables it to deal with structures that are a health and safety risk, but there is no legislation for problem businesses. Zille’s appeal, which has not yet been put to the city council or considered at a local government level, has been viewed with caution by the Cape Chamber of Commerce.“In theory giving the municipality the power to close down businesses that deal in stolen goods makes sense, but will it really be effective? Will the criminals not simply move the trade to a neighbouring municipal area or into the country?” said chamber president, Janine Myburgh.In the past, the export of scrap metals moved to other ports when law enforcement made things difficult for the criminals in Cape Town. Myburgh agreed drastic action was needed to stop copper theft.
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