Cel­lp­ho­ne to­wer bat­te­ries worth mo­re than half a mil­li­on sto­len

Graaff-Reinet Advertiser - - Voorblad -

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.

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