JOHANNESBURG - Battery theft has become a top concern among mobile network operators given that their ability to deliver on their uptime customer promises, depends on back-up power supply that batteries provide during power outages at mobile base stations. However, network providers are pushing back. Vodacom in conjunction with a specialised security firm recently managed to recover 49 of their stolen batteries thanks to increased investment in security, exposing a potential major criminal operation in the process.
"Battery theft has affected the entire industry," says Johan van Graan, Chief Risk Officer at Vodacom. "Criminals have targeted every link in the supply chain, right from manufacturers through to robbing towers. However, keeping our customers connected is a top priority so we have invested extensively in preventative measures, including partnering with top security companies and with communities."
For Vodacom, this investment has paid off. Last week one of Vodacom's manufacturing partners, a factory in Kempton Park, fell victim to an armed robbery. Among the items stolen were over 700 batteries, 49 of which belonged to Vodacom. The Vodacom security team and other security professionals succeeded in locating the stolen batteries in a warehouse near Musina, in Limpopo. Here the team retrieved all 49 batteries and returned these to the original warehouse.
"Vodacom is extremely grateful to its security partners for the role they played in retrieving the stolen goods. The clear message that we want to send to criminals is that if you target our base stations, you will be caught and you will be prosecuted. Therefore, we urge anyone who sees suspicious activity around our base stations to report it to the police by calling our toll-free number: 0822419952 or SAPS on 10111," concludes Van Graan.
While battery theft continues to have a serious impacted the mobile network industry, costing many of the country's leading providers billions, victories such as this go a long way in the prevention of further theft.