The Johannesburg Road Agency is in talks with suppliers to try and stop thieves targeting its shiny new traffic lights for the SIM cards they contain.
The Agency has been forking out thousands of rand on phone calls the thieves subsequently make using the snaffled SIMs.
Thulani Makhubela, spokesman for the JRA, said: “The JRA has been severely affected with this crime and this now means we have to fork out more money on something that we should not have spent a cent on.”
Makubela said the agency was now cancelling the SIMs stolen from the GPRS units inside some of the traffic lights and working with Johannesburg police to stop the traffic light thefts. Ordinary lights have not been targeted by the gangs – although there were some thefts of traffic light poles last year for their scrap value.
The spokesman said the JRA was also in talks with suppliers to make the lights' components more secure.
He told the Guardian the attacks were "systematic and co-ordinated" and thieves knew which lights to attack and "clearly have information".
Four hundred out of 600 SIM-equipped traffic lights have been hit in the last three months and it will cost R8.8m (£838,000) to replace missing components and repair them. ®