Putting an End to Copper Theft

Putting an End to Copper Theft

The wire and cable industry has been increasingly plagued with theft throughout the last several years. Developing a solution that prevents this from continually occurring can be surprisingly challenging. With that in mind, Southwire has engineered a method to help prevent and track copper wire theft. Though there are many copper theft-deterrent products on the market, most of them fail to provide the proof of ownership that is available in Southwire’s Proof Positive Copper and Proof Positive Copper-Clad Steel grounding products.

Southwire’s Proof Positive copper is able to be traced back to the owner of the product due to the laser etched Trace-ID codes, located on the center strand of the product. When these codes are typed into the Proof Positive online database (www.2idcu.com), ownership data is available to be used for verification of the product.  Everyone has access to this real-time data base including utilities, recyclers, and law enforcement agencies. With this product there is also a long-term theft deterrent system in place. The tinned outer and center strand distinguish it from other bare copper and copper-clad steel cables. Visual identification is key to alerting recyclers that the product has likely been stolen and also serves as a theft deterrent. Also, the steel core of Proof Positive Copper-Clad Steel is harder to cut and has lower scrap values than bare copper.

Through Southwire’s involvement, including the End Copper Theft initiative, authorities have more evidence and can prosecute copper thieves easier.  Charges are not placed on the thief for the cost of the copper stolen, but for the replacement value; in most cases, there is a substantial difference between the scrap price and the replacement value for the stolen copper.  For example, thief taking the stolen copper to a scrap yard will fetch around $2.30 per pound in South Carolina. However, the cost of repairing and replacing the affected products can be more than five times the cost of the stolen material due to labor and material purchases (http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Menifee-Residents-Furious-Over-Copper-Theft-Power-Outage-204778781.html).

Aside from the monetary implications of copper theft, many people involved do not inherently know the risk. There have been cases where people were harshly burned or even killed by electrical shock. Wire theft also causes power outages, often effecting more than just a few businesses and residential areas. One incident from April 25, 2013 in Riverside County California left 22,000 people without power for several days.

In order to avoid these types of situations, Southwire has created EndCopperTheft.com and Proof Positive Copper in hopes of making copper theft less appealing to thieves. To learn more about Southwire’s end copper theft initiative, visit http://www.endcoppertheft.com/.

Additional resources:

http://www.southwire.com/distribution/ProofPositiveCopper.htm

http://www.southwire.com/metaltracking/MetalTracking.html

http://www.ect.coop/industry/copper-theft/few-options-for-replacing-copper/46336

http://www.ect.coop/editors-pick/south-carolina-man-dies-stealing-copper/55375

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Menifee-Residents-Furious-Over-Copper-Theft-Power-Outage-204778781.html

– Fernando Baldizon

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