A powdery substance found within parts of the electricity meters, might likely be the reason behind a sudden rise in the electricity meter theft.
Johannesburg’s City Power has warned residents to be vigilant following an upsurge in the theft of the meters. It’s believed the thieves are targeting the meters for a powdery substance located within the meters. However it’s not clear what they use this powder for.
Before you start calling City Power thinking there is a power outage, check first with the neighbours and whether their power is on. If their lights are on – chances are your electricity meter has been stolen. This is a new trend that has gripped Johannesburg, particularly in the West Rand. Random homes and substations are targeted, and meter boxes stolen.
City Power spokesperson Virgil James says, “We would like to caution residents to be on the lookout for strangers lurking around or in the vicinity of their walls because most of the meters are outside, thieves can steal meters in a street, about 3 or four meters which can make residents believe that there is a power outage, which causes much inconvenience and frustration. It is for this reason that city power will respond as soon as possible and replace the stolen meters.”
City Power says residents who might have their prepaid meters stolen should report the incident with the local police and request a case number. Once the case number is obtained, the customer should phone the City of Johannesburg’s Call Centre to log a call for the stolen meter. James says residents should always remain vigilant and not allow strangers in or nearby their yards without any identification.
“Residents must always check technicians credentials before allowing them into the property because a number of cases have been reported of people posing as city power technicians. All city power officials must have a city power identity card when they are on duty. And if you are in doubt, you are able to call 011 490 7911 for verification.”
What could be alarming about the rising theft as James says is that thieves could simply be targeting the meters for the powder found within the meter fuse.
“Thieves were targeting, flat screen Tvs and it was then discovered that they particularly wanted flat screen tvs because there was some powder within that they can use to smoke or as a mix in the concoction that they smoke. In the electricity meter boxes, that powder is not there. However you will find it in the fuses of the electricity substations. And they just pull out that fuse, which causes a disruption in electricity supply.”
James says the remaining scraps are often sold to scrap yards. “Most city assets end up at scrap yard dealers where they sell them for a profit.”
There has since been an increase in security in various areas as Johannesburg Metro Police spokesperson Wayne Minnaar explains, “JMPD have increased patrols in areas where there has been an increase of theft of meter boxes, particularly on the western side of Joburg. Any person caught tempering or wanting to remove or steal a meter box, will get arrested and will have to appear in court for the theft of the meter boxes.”
Random audits of meters will be conducted by City Power and customers found to have procured the meters illegally will face criminal prosecution.