Thieves have been targeting a variety of copper consumers lately, including electrical substations. They steal copper grounding cable because is an easy target. Stealing the material puts the thief in danger of electrocution, and far worse, causes major damage to the substation, leaving high-voltage cables ungrounded, putting utility crews and the general public at risk of injury or death.
Until recently, recycling yards where thieves sold stolen copper could not determine if the material was stolen. Now they can.
After learning of several thefts, engineers at Southwire Co. put their heads together and came up with Proof Positive Copper. It is a cable with one tin-coated wire (“candy striped”) in the outer strand and a tin-coated center strand. The center strand is laser etched when manufactured with a license code, serial number unique to each foot of the wire, and a website URL. “The tin-coated copper strands are visible for the life of the cable and making it easier for a recycler to identify the product,” says Southwire Product Specialist Fernando Baldizon. “The etched codes tie back to ownership information stored in an online database which proves ownership of each foot of wire for help with prosecution.”
The database is accessible anytime at www.2IDCU.com. Recyclers and law enforcement simply enter the license code and serial number from the wire in their possession to identify the rightful owner. If the wire is confirmed not to be the property of the thief, law enforcement can be notified, the thief prosecuted, and one more criminal is off the streets. Long-term, Proof Positive Copper acts as a deterrent for thieves. If they know they will be caught and prosecuted because of this wire, they won’t steal it in the first place.
Baldizon says utilities like the idea because it provides a less-costly alternative to video surveillance and the physical proof needed to prove ownership. Recyclers can more easily identify stolen copper cable, while law enforcement agencies have solid proof needed to prosecute criminals. WPE