Vancouver Copper Theft Solution
Jun 07, 2011
Over the past two years wire theft in the Metro Vancouver area has reached epidemic proportions. It is generally caused by drug addicts looking for scrap copper to sell to feed their addictions. It was costing my municipality 10′s of thousands of dollars per month to repair and replace the stolen wire. We put together a systematic theft deterrent plan and theft and tampering has been reduced to almost nothing. We took a map of our city and identified the high theft risk areas, medium risk areas and low risk areas by highlighting them in different colours.
- High risk – industrial areas (no people around at night), streets adjacent to green belt areas (easy cover for thieves)
- Medium risk – economically depressed neighborhoods, isolated commercial areas (deserted at night), stretches of rural highway/expressway.
- Low risk – areas with dense residential and higher late night traffic, areas with little cover for thieves.
In a blitz lasting several months we installed tamperproof hardware at all high risk locations, all medium risk locations and a few low risk locations.
We then started a program of daily random patrols to detect tampering and theft in the high theft areas during the blitz and prioritized our hardware installs to be done first in the areas that were commonly hit.
We add hardware in small portions of low risk areas whenever we have reports of or notice tampering there.
Tamper proof hardware includes cast steel or reinforced (non-bendable hand hole covers with recessed custom security head bolts. We ordered custom Keyed-Lok™ bolts made by Bryce Fastener, Inc with a unique driver shape for which driver bits do not exist in stores.
There are also cast hand hole covers available from Westcoast Engineering that are designed for circular “American” or “Pacific Lock” padlocks (the type used on van doors).
As a bare minimum we installed a secure hand hole cover every 2nd pole and in high risk areas we installed them on every pole.
New installations should use the “wire sentry” plus a high security hand hole cover.
The key is to get ahead of the thieves and to make it difficult for them to find an area that is unsecured. If they work hard enough they can defeat the hardware but will tend to avoid your area if they consistently are forced to work that hard due to security hardware.
There are several other anti-theft hand hole cover products and the covers we found to be best are not listed above since I can’t remember the supplier off-hand. I can find out if requested.