Solar Panel Thieves Busted

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By Staff Writer

WINDHOEK

Two thieves who are said to have been behind a spate of solar panel thefts at Eros Airport over a two-year period were nabbed in Prosperita Industrial Area with their loot, thanks to a tiny tracking device that was hidden in a panel that pinpointed their whereabouts.

Janko Barkhuizen, a technician at Thompson Radio, the sole licensee for the installation of this particular device and others confirmed the arrest of the two on Saturday.

Expertly installed in the panel, the tracking device sent an electronic signal to Thompson Radio where the technicians were able to zoom in on its location. With the assistance of a police sergeant and at least another law enforcement agent, they pounced on the duo.

The two who thought they were going to cash in on their loot, like they did previously, were openmouthed when apprehended before they could even run, not knowing the tracking device concealed in the solar panel pinpointed and betrayed their whereabouts.

At the time of the theft, they cut a whole in the wire fence and managed to sneak past sleepy security guarding the airport.

Thereafter, they unscrewed the solar panel and carried it to a hideout in Prosperita Industrial Park where they were eventually arrested.

The recovered solar panel powers one of the small weather stations used by air traffic control to update pilots who are about to land, on the conditions on the ground such as the wind speed, wind direction, air pressure, the amount of rain and the ground temperature.

Barkhuizen said the device that costs N$2 800 on top of the N$150 monthly connection fee is suitable for firms with a large fleet of vehicles and is suitable for asset management.

In the case of company vehicles, the device can indicate if the driver has strayed from his route. It also gives signals when the vehicle is involved in an accident.

Thieves are targeting solar panels in big numbers because they are now in demand as a result of the growing need for electricity.

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