Cellphone tower batteries worth more than half a million stolen
The batteries used in this area are Nerada Acme F series. GRAAFF-REINET | ABERDEEN — A staggering amount of well over half a million rand has been lost in the last few months due to theft of batteries from MTN towers in the Graaff-reinet and Aberdeen area.
Batteries are stored in a safe at each tower, and come into use when there is an Eskom or municipal power failure to ensure the continued working of the cellphone network in the area.
The batteries used in this area are Nerada Acme F series, valued at R5 000 each.
The batteries are black, with a red trim on the top.
In most cases, the exact date that the batteries were stolen is not known, as it is only when a technician visits the site that the theft is discovered unless there is a power failure and the network fails due to lack of battery back-up.
As previously reported, sometime between August 31 and October 10, 16 batteries were taken from the Lotusville tower in Aberdeen.
In the Graaff-reinet area, a technician visited the Adendorp tower on October 4 and discovered that the batteries were missing.
He then went on to check at the Kriegerskraal site, between Graaff-reinet and Aberdeen, where he found that these had also been stolen. A total of 24 batteries were taken from these two sites.
At Melksrivier, between Graaff-reinet and Jansenville, a further 16 batteries have been taken.
The Maraiskraal tower is 30km from Aberdeen on the Beaufort West road. A technician visited this site on October 29, to find that the 8 batteries had been stolen. Two days later, both Magazine Hill in Graaff-reinet and Stoepies, 50km from Aberdeen on the Willowmore road, were checked.
In each case, the 16 batteries that should have been on site were missing.
Sometime between that date and 2nd November, a further 16 batteries were taken from the De Puts tower, 60km from Aberdeen on the Beaufort West road.
In addition to these more recent cases, a few months ago, an unconfirmed number of batteries were taken from the Dassiesfontein tower at the Naudesberg pass. Not counting this case, a total of 112 batteries have been reported stolen since the end of August, with a combined value of R5.6m.
It is thought that there is a syndicate involved in these thefts, as they are very professional, and in most instances, there is no forced entry. It appears that a key has been used to break into the battery safe.
In a case near Richmond, in the Northern Cape, a year or so ago, four men were convicted and imprisoned for a similar offence.
Two were caught on site by a farmer, and the other two as a result of fingerprint identification.
A reliable source has told the Advertiser that batteries are no longer being installed as a backup power source due to the repeated thefts, and alternate methods will be used to secure the availability of the network signal.
Local police have asked members of the public to report any suspicious activity near the site of cellphone towers and to be on the lookout for the distinctive black and red batteries.