Johannesburg - There was a sharp increase in copper theft in January, the latest Sacci Copper Theft Barometer shows.The barometer shows that the value of copper stolen increased from R16.4m in December 2010 to R20.5m in January 2011.For the period June to December 2010 copper theft levels were fairly stable - between R16m and R18m per month, according to the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci). "The annual cost for 2010 was R259m. This was followed by a spike in January 2011 to R20.5m. The annual cost between February 2010 and January 2011 increased to R263.5m. "These levels are unsustainable and will continue to drive up the costs for consumers and business at a time when both are already challenged by increasing levels of administered prices," Sacci saidThis is the third monthly issue of the Sacci Non-Ferrous Metals (Copper) Theft Barometer, which measures and monitors copper cable theft in the country on a monthly basis. The objective is to raise general wareness of the problem, to engage public participation in combating it and to encourage individuals to be ambassadors for the anti-theft campaign.The barometer reflects the experiences of Transnet, Telkom [JSE:TKG], and Eskom on a current and projected basis; it covers six months preceding the date of the release and also tracks annual trends.The Sacci barometer is an indicator of the estimated replacement cost of copper cable stolen and does not reflect other indirect costs such as security to protect infrastructure, which runs into many millions of rand per month for each participant. It also excludes the costs incurred by other entities affected such as municipalities.