Millions are lost due to the theft of copper cables — PICTURE: SUNDAY TIMES It's going to be a lot harder to maintain a career as a copper thief from next week when legislation comes into effect that lays down jail terms longer than those served by murderers.The Criminal Matters Amendment Act comes into force on Tuesday, creating far harsher sentencing and bail conditions for people who damage infrastructure for services such as transport, power, water and communications.The law creates a new offence: damaging infrastructure that disrupts the provision of essential services, whether publicly or privately owned.Though making specific reference to copper theft, the new law also makes provision for people to be charged with tampering with "basic service" infrastructure.Previously, cable theft was tried as malicious damage to property and incurred minor penalties.There are minimum sentences for first-time copper thieves of three years, and a maximum 30 years for those involved in instig...

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