How To Deter Copper Thieves From Your Construction Site

Posted on: 27 August 2015

The market for scrap copper is booming, fueled in part by the acceleration in economic development in the Far East.  As a consequence, the last few years have seen a dramatic increase in the incidence of copper theft from construction sites.  This crime wave is costing businesses dearly, not only in terms of physical losses, but in increased insurance premiums as providers hike up fees in a knee jerk reaction to the perceived heightened risk.

So, how can you protect copper piping and telecoms components on your site?  Here are some tried and tested tips to keep the copper thieves at bay.

Secure units and security systems

If you have significant quantities of copper on your site, it's a good idea to invest in a secure, windowless container or other unit in which to store it.  Protect your unit with a good quality, alarm system.  There are many different types of security alarm systems to choose from, for example motion sensor alarms, tamper alarms, and automatic police response systems.  Your selection will depend on the type of unit you have and the location of your site.  Your local security systems provider will be able to offer you advice on the best options for your circumstances.  

CCTV surveillance cameras are a great complementary addition to your security system.  Copper thieves are often known to the police and some clear CCTV footage could aid in their apprehension.

The majority of construction site thefts occur at night or over weekends when businesses are closed.  If your budget allows, a great deterrent for thieves is the presence of security guards patrolling your facility.  No thief will risk an encounter with a security guard accompanied by a guard dog.

Disguise techniques

Stacks of stored copper piping stand out a mile when viewed from a distance or even by torchlight when thieves strike at night.  A simple and cheap way to disguise your assets is to paint all visible copper components with black paint.  At a cursory glance, those bright, shiny pipes instantly appear to be nothing more than worthless black plastic tubing that no thief would risk their liberty for.

Another really effective way of disguising copper piping is to substitute it for tinned ground bars.  Tinned ground bars are copper pipes coated with a thin layer of tin.  To the naked eye, they don't look like copper and therefore appear to be of little value.  In addition, tinned ground bars cannot be processed as easily as pure copper pipes, and this reduces their scrap value.

If your site uses copper grounding conductors, they could also be a target for thieves.  A simple yet very effective way of protecting them is to slide the conductors into an EMT conduit.  By using a crimping tool every metre or so to constrict the conduit, you'll make it virtually impossible for thieves to pull the copper out.  Fill the open end of the conduit with silicone sealant to make it water-proof.

In conclusion

With copper theft on the rise, it's important that you take steps to keep thieves out of your construction site and away from your copper assets.  Use the tips given above and discuss security arrangements with your local security systems company for more advice.

For more information, contact a company like Pro-Tect Security Management.


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