The market for scrap copper is booming, fuelled partly by the acceleration in economic development in the Far East. Consequently, 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 componentry on your site? Here are some tried and tested tips to keep the copper thieves at bay.
Mesh security fencing
Your first defence against copper thieves is to fence your premises with security mesh fencing. Holding LPS1175 Cat 1 certification, 165mm x 25mm using 6mm wire diameter mesh fencing, is almost impossible to breach. It’s tough to climb, too, thanks to a flat top and small holes.
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 another unit in which to store it. Protect your unit with a good quality alarm system. There are many different security alarm systems to choose from, such as 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. For example, copper thieves are often known to the police, and some clear CCTV footage could aid in their apprehension.
A simple and cheap way to disguise your assets is to paint all visible copper components with black paint. Those bright, shiny pipes instantly appear to be nothing more than worthless black plastic tubing at a cursory glance.
Another 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. They don’t look like copper to the naked eye and therefore appear to be of little value. A simple yet very effective way of protecting copper conductors is to slide them 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 waterproof.