Copper theft increased to a level of R10.5 million in December, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said on Monday.
According to Sacci, copper theft stood at R9.5m in November 2013.
Sacci said the copper theft barometer level for last year was 41 percent lower than in 2012.
The international spot price of copper increased to a monthly average, to date, of US7343 (about R82,388) per metric ton in January 2014, from US7216 (about R80,963) in December.
“The increase in the copper price in January has been much stronger than expected and could signal a confidence in industrial economies for strong growth,” Sacci predicted.
Copper waste exports fell to US14.3m (about R160.4m) in November 2013 from US62.9 (about R705m) in October.
The sudden fall suggested that the export restriction on scrap metal that came into effect at the end of last year was now making an impact.
Sacci CEO Neren Rau said the outlook on copper theft looked “relatively optimistic”.
However, a sudden increase in price coupled with a weaker rand exchange rate could create a greater incentive for organised crime.
“This is where the gains from improved policing as well as the export restrictions should start to play a role,” he said.