If only keeping thieves at bay could be that easy.
Remember the ’80s and ’90s, when car radio theft was all the rage? People etched parts with identifying marks and put “no radio” stickers on their car windows to warn thieves away from a fruitless exercise. Attempting to curb increasingly bold metal thieves, Hydro One started following the lead of frustrated car owners last year, putting up these signs at some of their substations. The utility has also partnered with Crime Stoppers and is using markers from DataDot Technology to mark equipment at its facilities.
While metal thieves aren’t exactly a new phenomenon, high prices for copper, brass, and other metals in recent years have increased both their number and brazenness. Crooks around the world have been making off with anything from railroad signalling cable and manhole covers to phone cables right off the poles and bronze statues for sale to scrap dealers, who melt them down and resell the recycled materials for a tidy profit. Hydro One estimates that it lost over $1.5 million of equipment to metal thieves last year. Some of the targets at the utility have included grounding cables from substations that prevent perimeter fences and other equipment from becoming electrified. Hydro One warns that this can potentially create electrocution hazards and cause blackouts.
So the next time you see someone backing a pickup truck up to your local substation at three in the morning, be sure to point out the “no value” sign and mention that he’s wasting his time. Hey, you don’t know if you don’t try.
Photo by Val Dodge.