7 arrested in MTN battery theft crackdown

MTN said seven people have been arrested in connection with battery theft at its base stations over the past few days.

In total, 55 batteries were recovered, while four vehicles that had tools that could be used to steal batteries were confiscated.

“In one of the biggest hauls to date, members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) arrested a suspect at the Beit Bridge point of entry in possession of 32 batteries,” said MTN.

“His vehicle including a trailer were also impounded.”

MTN said another operation in Greytown, Kwa-Zulu Natal saw three suspects apprehended while within the perimeter of the base station.

“Two vehicles with false licence plates were recovered at the scene, including the tools the suspects used to break in,” said MTN, adding that these suspects have been positively linked to other cases.

In a third sting, MTN security and SAPS caught three more suspects after being tipped off by another telco operator. 16 MTN batteries were recovered from this operation.

“We are encouraged with the breakthrough we are making in the fight against vandalism and the theft of telecommunications infrastructure; all the hard work is finally yielding results,” said MTN General Manager of Network Operations, Ernest Paul.

“MTN will continue to collaborate with other telco companies to completely clamp down on the scourge of battery theft, which is costing mobile network operators millions of rands and depriving consumers access to communication services.”

“We wish to thank members of the SAPS for their diligent work, and we once again appeal to our communities to work with mobile network operators and law enforcement agencies to end the scourge of battery theft.”

Continued success

This statement from MTN follows the mobile operator previously disclosing that it had recovered a further 143 batteries in January – totalling R1.2 million in value.

However, MTN said that battery theft was still on the increase – meaning that the battle to stop battery theft was far from over.

“Recent statistics show that 703 batteries were stolen from MTN stations in January 2020 with a total of 122 incidents,” said MTN.

“A lot more work needs to be done to stay a step ahead, especially as vandalism at base stations can keep many consumers offline for long periods, or even completely destroy the base station, leaving people with no access at all,” said Paul.

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7 arrested in MTN battery theft crackdown