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Wed Jun 01 03:46:31 SAST 2016

Dogs let loose on cable thieves

PHILANI NOMBEMBE | 26 November, 2012 00:29

Image by: Mike Holmes

Cape Town will loose the hounds to curb copper theft.

A K9 unit of two "specialist dogs" and four dog handlers will sniff out criminals for the council's Metals Theft Unit, commonly known as the Copperheads.

It costs the city's ratepayers more than R22-million a year to replace stolen copper cables, water pipes, taps and manhole covers.

Councillor JP Smith, the mayoral committee member responsible for safety and security, described metal theft as a "runaway nightmare".

Cable theft has left thousands of commuters who rely on the city's trains stranded on numerous occasions.

"With the aid of these new members, the Metals Theft Unit will now be able to search for copper in a variety of concealed locations," said Smith.

"To give an idea of just how effective they can be, a human's sense of smell relies on an area of membrane the size of a postage stamp - in a dog, it is the size of an A4 sheet of paper.

"This keen sense of smell allows the dogs to find stolen copper even with the introduction of disguising odours."

Neil Arendse, assistant chief of the city's Law Enforcement Services, said the dogs' sense of smell was an invaluable asset in the war on copper theft.

"They can sniff out copper inside the premises, out in the field and even underground," said Arendse.

"With the canine detectives' capabilities it is much easier for us to move into informal settlements where we normally find our stolen copper cables."

Smith said plans to share the unit's services with the police and Metrorail were being discussed .


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