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  • Construction Site Theft

    I provide security services for a construction site, and every other week, someone steals the cable that supplies electricity to the entire facility. The developer said the cord is very expensive, but never tells me how much it costs. I don't know if the cord was stolen while the guard was on, or off duty. How might we secure the power cable? Are there any devices on the market that I could purchase to prevent the cable from being stolen?

  • #2
    Is is being stolen off the cable drum or is the whole drum walking away ?

    For the major stuff ............ chainsaws are used these come off the main transformer and require semi-trailers and cranes to lift each section. If the theft is coming off the drum - then secure the drum - why not try a padlock and chain or spider chain like a snow chain get up. If the whole thing is walking - the drums COULD have PIR portable alarms that scream when tampered with. Could also be an inside job too.
    "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

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    • #3
      The cable could be monitored with an alarm system that sent a silent alarm to security and/or the police when the cable was tampered with. Without knowing the exact details of your installation, it's hard to be specific, but there is usually always a way.

      Many years ago, a client of ours (the local telephone company) was experiencing the theft of telephone cable from its utility poles. They had one spot where a section of multi-pair cable crossed a river. The thieves would cut the cable at both ends and then float the cable down the river where they would load in on to a truck at a boat ramp. This left hundreds of telephone subscribers without service until the cable could be replaced. We installed monitoring devices on the poles on both sides of the river as well as monitored a set of wires within the cable itself. To my knowledge, there was never another attempt to steal the cable. (The telephone company installed extensive signage saying that the cable was now monitored.)
      Michael A. Silva
      Silva Consultants

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      • #4
        This is a live power cable they're jacking, isn't it?. If its being stolen during the guard's shift, you need another guard. Lets assume its not, and third the monitoring solution. However, the question is: Is protecting the cable when your guard is not present part of your job?

        This is what contracts are for. This may not actually be your present concern, and it would be more business for you. BUT, you have to prove that its not happening on the guard's shift to take that stance.
        Some Kind of Commando Leader

        "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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        • #5
          Oh I just realised it could probably be a live cable !!

          I know this happened at a remote mine with the cable running overland in order to provide access to substations, etc - it took 3 stolen semi's to transport the cable over the weekend and it was done using chainsaws to cut them into 100 foot lengths with a crane provided onsite. It shut the mine down for weeks whilst it was reconnected. Sorry I thought this was raw cable that was being stolen off a drum - it does happen quite often or the whole drum just goes.
          "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

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          • #6
            Sounds like they need 24 hour security and more guards. Gotta be cheaper than replacing the cable and having the operation shut down.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by GordonSecurity View Post
              I provide security services for a construction site, and every other week, someone steals the cable that supplies electricity to the entire facility. The developer said the cord is very expensive, but never tells me how much it costs. I don't know if the cord was stolen while the guard was on, or off duty. How might we secure the power cable? Are there any devices on the market that I could purchase to prevent the cable from being stolen?
              Before we could advise you how to secure the cable run, we'd need more information about the run itself - length of the run, where it's coming from, what it traverses through, etc. and also on response capabilities (yours or LE). Although cable can be monitored, as some have mentioned, we can't know whether monitoring would be useful with the little information we have. Monitoring, to be useful, implies having a response capability. If you don't have response capability, other approaches such as placement temporary remote cameras (with resolutions capable of picking up license plates, etc.) might be a better solution for the sake of evidence-gathering. And, sometimes (as one member implies above) something as simple as signage can have an impact. I imagine it was the warning signs, not the actual monitoring, that drove thieves away from his problem area.

              If the run is long, if the cable is being attacked at different places, and if you DO monitor the cable, the next question is...if you have an alarm where do you respond? To answer that question, talk to cable technicians, alarm installers, etc. about something called a "time domain reflectometer", which can remotely pinpoint the location of a break in a cable. These aren't terribly cheap, but you can probably rent or borrow one (be sure they show you how to use it, which isn't difficult). You can see and read about a typical TDR here. If your company specializes in construction site security, you might think about picking up one of the less expensive handheld TDR's (prolly get em used on eBay)...I'll bet you'd be the only company to have one and you could get great "differentiation" mileage out of just having a piece of specialized gear like this.

              It's also very important to let both city AND county LE know about these thefts. Such thefts are economic-driven crimes (i.e., thefts increase when the "spot" price of metals rises) and as such they tend to run in bunches. So, you might find out that there is a citywide/countywide problem with copper theft, manhole cover thefts, etc., and they often mount special operations against such crimes when there are a lot of them going on.

              One thing LE will do is to set up surveillance and "stings" on the metal recycling yards that keep on purchasing this stuff from the thieves. And, in many jurisdictions, recyclers are supposed to keep records of what they purchase, and from whom, just like pawn shops. So, get the authorities involved so they can work it from the other end - i.e., how the stuff is being fenced.
              Last edited by SecTrainer; 11-06-2007, 09:50 AM.
              "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

              "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

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              • #8
                Since this is a construction site, I'm guessing we're not talking miles here, or even a mile. If this is the power feed for the site, during working hours you would think this would be noticed immediately ("my drill quit working" "so did my saw").

                Regardless, if this is a relatively short distance, a simple power relay and a siren with backup power could be used. When power is available, the relay is active and opening the path for power to the siren. Lose power, the siren GETS power and sounds. Either construction supervisors during day or you after hours can check it out.
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