Author Topic: Copper Theft - How to Fight?  (Read 26125 times)

Offline madcap1one

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 462
  • Karma: 20
Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« on: February 18, 2010, 11:51:03 AM »
Well this one has come home to roost in ugly fashion.

My aunt who lives in one of the nicer neighborhoods in Chicago, is thankfully a light sleeper.

On two separate occasions this week, she has been awoken by her motion sensitive lights being activated, and sounds emanating from the backyard. It turns out both times it was a single guy (same guy both times) trying to pry the cover off of her new air conditioner compressor to steal the copper piping - which is apparently a big business here in Chicago. There have upon investigation on the local police precinct website, been a recent string of these thefts in Chicago; and the police do not have the manpower to combat it.

In the Kingdom of Mayor Daley (and frankly most other places even where laws differ) it would not go over well dropping a load of buckshot into a the rear end of a petty burglar who is not attempting entry into the home itself (much as you and I would emotionally prefer to do so...)

SO - I ask you TSPF guerilla style homestead protectors for interesting ideas to combat this.

So far we intend to deploy in the next 24 hours:
-A roll of barbed wire wrapped around the compressor
-Several 2x4s with nails pointing up through them (and painted no gloss black) laid on the ground around the ingress/egress points in the yard
-Barbed wire along the top of the fence
-200 decibel air horn wired to the motion sensor lights (also considering a lighter attached to a can of hairspray or similar but safer, just to add some pyrotechnic flare, its a brick home)

Come on guys - give me some effective and hilarious ways to cause this guy to poop his little boy drawers!!! I dont want/need to shoot him - just point him towards easier less prepared neighborhoods (yes, it would be better to catch him and have him arrested but that is not my role here.)

TheRoot

  • Guest
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2010, 11:54:28 AM »
Electric fencing can be used quite creatively.

Offline madcap1one

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 462
  • Karma: 20
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2010, 11:57:26 AM »
Electric fencing can be used quite creatively.

We considered it, but being an urban environment with adjacent yards we are concerned about the neighbors dogs and kids coming into contact with the fence. Big liability if the dog is let out to pee in the middle of the night, or if we forget to turn off the fence and one of the kids gets a little "wake 'em up" jolt (and yes, we considered a timer as well - but it doesn't answer the dog issue.)

Not bad though...

Keep 'em coming folks!

Offline Uncle Bob (he ain’t right)

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 513
  • Karma: 27
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2010, 12:25:03 PM »
Most people just have a expanded steel cage that is hard to remove but can be removed for service.
I would tell you that if something would go wrong with the ideas you referenced you post would be used against you by the criminal protecting police.  This being the cold time You could Rube Goldburg a can of bear spray or to a lesser degree a large pepper/die spray to go off as a panel is raised.

PS I send you a link to some copper thieves in Texas. Too graphic for me to post here. SisWolf would hit me with that damn hammer. ::)
You have to like Texas, They have a express lane for death row.

Offline ebonearth

  • TSP Bunny Rabbit Wrangler
  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1497
  • Karma: 71
  • Plant a Revolution!
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2010, 12:38:47 PM »
'Midnight Plumbers' are no joke. They have been breaking into a lot of the old resorts up here stealing all of the piping they could carry. It has gotten so bad they have guards patrolling some of the decrepit buildings. Why not, since we are tossing around ideas here - a motion activated security camera that you could then use the video and send it to a) the police b) YouTube c) the media or you could go one step further and have a small TV or projection playing the image of his thievery against the house perhaps with a laugh track. ;)

Seriously, I think those steps you enumerated are excellent. Have you considered razor wire along the upper interior of the fence?

Offline madcap1one

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 462
  • Karma: 20
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2010, 12:47:48 PM »
Hey Ebon,

We considered CCTV, and with all due respect to the ChicagoPD, they are not interested in trying to match mugshots of known offenders with our security tapes. Much bigger fish to fry - and I cant entirely disagree with them triaging this down in priority when we have armed robbers, rapers, muggers, murderers etc running amok in our civil and unarmed eden of a city...

Yes, the barbed wire is going up tonight (see my original post) on both the compressor and interior tops of the fence line.

And stealing again from Home Alone, its a bit to warm to ice over the backyard and watch this fool fall on his tush. Darn it!

Offline ebonearth

  • TSP Bunny Rabbit Wrangler
  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1497
  • Karma: 71
  • Plant a Revolution!
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2010, 01:01:34 PM »
We considered CCTV, and with all due respect to the ChicagoPD, they are not interested in trying to match mugshots of known offenders with our security tapes. Much bigger fish to fry - and I cant entirely disagree with them triaging this down in priority when we have armed robbers, rapers, muggers, murderers etc running amok in our civil and unarmed eden of a city...

Yes, the barbed wire is going up tonight (see my original post) on both the compressor and interior tops of the fence line.
I am much more fond of razor wire myself, since a winter coat can keep most barbed wire from working. I figured that about the local police but it usually helps to offer to send something to them before passing it along to a medium of public censure. Still, good luck that sounds like a whole mess of unpleasantness.

Offline madcap1one

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 462
  • Karma: 20
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2010, 01:06:45 PM »
I am much more fond of razor wire myself, since a winter coat can keep most barbed wire from working. I figured that about the local police but it usually helps to offer to send something to them before passing it along to a medium of public censure. Still, good luck that sounds like a whole mess of unpleasantness.

Razors would be better - but we happen to have a roll of the barbed wire on hand (i.e. no added expenditure - both razor and barbed are not exactly common purchases in the middle of the city.)

As to the unpleasantness, well yes, its not tea time. That said, its outside the home and not a direct threat to someones life/health/safety so we are tending to laugh while planning our guerilla campaign not wanting to go overboard with emotions and get riled up as we men sometimes do... Yeah, its a pain - but hey, how often do we get free license from the cops (we know the local squads) to go antagonize this piece of trash...

Offline JerseyVince

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1416
  • Karma: 54
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2010, 01:34:22 PM »
Fishing line about 8inches high and broken glass on both sides of it for about 4ft. VERY effective at slowing down infiltrators and midnight contractors. I can neither confirm or deny its actual use
« Last Edit: February 18, 2010, 01:37:05 PM by JerseyVince »

Offline fndrbndr

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 315
  • Karma: 9
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2010, 01:57:17 PM »
People here in CO have been going into empty commercial building parking lots and stealing the copper wire from the light poles. That has happened all over the place out here.

Offline Docwatmo

  • May Ignite Spontaneously
  • Administrator
  • Survival Veteran
  • *******
  • Posts: 8709
  • Karma: 260
  • The Prepper Rising from the Ashes
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2010, 02:21:50 PM »
I don't know what the "Legalities" to booby traps are in your area but to be on the safe side i'd do something in the "Nasty" category.

Rig a booby trap that flings something nasty and rotten (I'll leave this up to your imagination) that stinks to high hell and doesn't wash off.

I'd rather booby trap it and watch out the window and see the thief getting lit up, but not worth the jail time LOL

Definitely have some fun with it though.  (Evil Grin). LOL

Offline Nadir_E

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 699
  • Karma: 36
  • Win some, learn some.
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2010, 02:50:27 PM »
Here in California booby-traps will get you jailed in short order.  Not saying the perp wouldn't deserve what he got, but it's considered outright negligence to set one.

I had a friend who worked for one of the big studios where their in-house carpentry shop was getting robbed of tools and supplies back in the 80's.  At the time CCTV's were a lot more expensive than today, so he just made a look-alike complete with lens and red "recording" light, pointed at the shop door.  The thefts stopped.

As for "urban miners", as I've heard them called, they prey on construction sites and vacant buildings constantly.  I've had very high voltage systems damaged while "hot" as these low-lifes ripped out heavy copper cable.  As mentioned above, we've also had parking lot lighting disabled following their wire being yanked out.  I've even had a project where they stole brass fire hydrants (that were connected and under pressure).  Often they're near-broke contractors looking to save a buck, often they're meth-heads with a little construction knowledge (and sometimes not enough - an electrician has photos of a guy who burned himself to a crisp trying to steal some components from a high voltage cabinet).

All that said, your barbed wire, motion sensor-tripped lights, and a camera (whether the cops will use the images or not) are probably all you can do (short of standing watch every few nights and trying to arrest the perp yourself).

Good luck,
-N

Offline fndrbndr

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 315
  • Karma: 9
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2010, 03:53:18 PM »

Offline Dawgus

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1818
  • Karma: 89
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2010, 04:21:48 PM »
 Thats been happening a lot in Akron. They're breaking into houses and jobsites to steal copper wire, and even copper pipe, live or not. In some bad areas, people have went to far as to steal the aluminum siding from houses and garages. Two years ago there was a spurt of them stealing empty kegs from behind bars & resturants, and also catyletic converters. The place I was working for at the time had someone climb the fence and cut off the catyletic's from the work vans. Some were caught by APD in a parking lot, under cars with cordless sawzall's.

 What fries my a$$ is with all the time and effort these people put into stealing, they could be working a regular job....apparantly thats too much work.  ::)

Offline mash

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1065
  • Karma: 36
  • it's spork-tastic!
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2010, 04:48:38 PM »
What fries my a$$ is with all the time and effort these people put into stealing, they could be working a regular job....apparantly thats too much work.  ::)

Yeah, and your boss would probably have a problem with you being jacked up on speed all the time too.

Offline JerseyVince

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1416
  • Karma: 54
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2010, 05:26:24 PM »

As for "urban miners", as I've heard them called, they prey on construction sites and vacant buildings constantly. I've had very high voltage systems damaged while "hot" as these lowlifes ripped out heavy copper cable.

I like the term "Urban Miners" Nadir_E. Lots of trouble with them here in Jersey too. Past year a group has been hitting the Bell-Tel cable vaults all over North Jersey and Cell-Sites for the Copper ground plates.

My Uncle was in the Commercial A/C business And it got so bad with copper thefts they started painting condensers black and covering them with the old covers to hide them from the thieves. They would cut the lines off while the units were running and steal them right off the Hospital and factory roofs at night

Throw some marbles or ball-bearings on the walkway, make it look like its been there. mix in some sharp rocks and glass or put a couple heavy-duty mouse traps under the A/C cover and behind the unit. Anything you can to make it a pain in the butt to steal and take extra time to do it. Time is what crooks hate to spend to steal. The more time they spend the more they risk being caught
« Last Edit: February 18, 2010, 05:32:28 PM by JerseyVince »

Offline Pathfinder

  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 2095
  • Karma: 97
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2010, 07:12:46 PM »
In hard times, pipe, wire, anything of value gets boosted from job sites.

Being you are in the people's republik of chikago, I would be VERY careful what passive defenses you put up. I would not be surprised to find some BG suing your family for damages - and winning.

I do have a problem with cops who will not do their jobs just because there are big fish to fry as well. There are tens of thousands of Chicago cops - they need to do their job. Of course, the perp has probably been in and out of jail ever since juvey . . .  ::)

Offline ebonearth

  • TSP Bunny Rabbit Wrangler
  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1497
  • Karma: 71
  • Plant a Revolution!
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2010, 10:16:03 PM »
I agree with Pathfinder, just last month my #2 (who is a self-employed contractor) happened to stay late on a job and came out to his work truck to find the cops waiting for him. As the owner of the house, a family acquaintance, had run out on an errand he had to stay there until she returned to the house to affirm that he was indeed allowed to be on the premises after 5pm (it was 5:30 and he was late cleaning up). #2 had the contract in hand, the property owner's signature and their cell number, none of that held any weight. Took almost two hours for the whole thing to get sorted out. Apparently there had been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood and since one of his specialties is copper work having a load of scrap copper visible is a bad thing.

It is a serious problem everywhere it seems. :(

Offline The Infidel

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 105
  • Karma: 3
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2010, 03:32:48 AM »
Careful with the traps!!! In Illinois it is as much his right to steal your stuff as it is for you to have stuff. Traps will have you sitting in jail and on the losing end of a lawsuit.

Offline madcap1one

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 462
  • Karma: 20
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2010, 08:52:01 AM »
So...

Last night / this AM.

Our friendly neighborhood bad guy did not show.

I will keep you guys posted on what happens.

We wound up not using the barbed wire as there are too many kids in the adjacent yards. We did put a small pepper spray surprise under the compressor hood - and staked out the aunts house from 4-6AM when he has shown twice. We will see what the weekend has in store for us.

Offline fndrbndr

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 315
  • Karma: 9
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2010, 10:40:27 AM »
Since copper is such an excellent conductor of electricity, there must be something "shocking" you could do to discourage theft.  :)

Offline Docwatmo

  • May Ignite Spontaneously
  • Administrator
  • Survival Veteran
  • *******
  • Posts: 8709
  • Karma: 260
  • The Prepper Rising from the Ashes
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2010, 10:45:52 AM »
Something very noisy with lots of flashing and sparks and noise (but non lethal), get it on video and post it to youtube.  See the criminals dancing around like they were on fire.  Sure wish I had a couple of flash-bangs, i'd love to see them put to good use. :)

Offline madcap1one

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 462
  • Karma: 20
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2010, 10:49:53 AM »
Well,

We have put in place a rudimentary Figure 4 deadfall Rube Goldberg contraption under the compressor cover that when activated triggers a "Bear Country" size can of pepper spray.

We are avoiding the electrical, for safety and liability reasons - but love the idea in general.

And yes, we wired the airhorn into the motion lights, but upset a few neighbors last night - and they were all false alarms... We have rethought that one now.

This weekend, we will be welding a protective cover over the compressors. Less for security, more because my brother wants to play with his new welder (he works in an office, but heck, its a new toy...)

Offline “Mark”

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1382
  • Karma: 57
  • Freedom lovin' Canadian
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2010, 02:09:56 PM »
This weekend, we will be welding a protective cover over the compressors. Less for security, more because my brother wants to play with his new welder (he works in an office, but heck, its a new toy...)

Not a bad idea, actually. For the few times you need it serviced, a cutting torch will do.

Offline shangrily

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 157
  • Karma: 6
  • me
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2010, 02:55:25 PM »
Well,

We have put in place a rudimentary Figure 4 deadfall Rube Goldberg contraption under the compressor cover that when activated triggers a "Bear Country" size can of pepper spray.

We are avoiding the electrical, for safety and liability reasons - but love the idea in general.

And yes, we wired the airhorn into the motion lights, but upset a few neighbors last night - and they were all false alarms... We have rethought that one now.

This weekend, we will be welding a protective cover over the compressors. Less for security, more because my brother wants to play with his new welder (he works in an office, but heck, its a new toy...)
heres what you do...
make sure that protective cover wont short to ground and hook a fence charger to it that will most likely end your problem.

Offline Cool Blue

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 917
  • Karma: 18
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2010, 07:03:33 PM »
Reminds me of a story I once read...

This lady who owned a bar had problems with drunk customers urinating outside the bars back door so she placed a sheet of metal on the ground and hooked it up to a car battery.  ;D

Offline Serellan

  • REMF
  • Moderator On Leave
  • Dedicated Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 1581
  • Karma: 97
  • Diligenter et Fideliter
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2010, 07:15:01 PM »
Instead of potentially sending yourself to jail or getting sued trying to rig up some dangerous trap, why not a motion activated light & Camera that is very obvious?

Offline Cool Blue

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 917
  • Karma: 18
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2010, 07:33:45 PM »
The OP did mention that there was a motion-sensor light which didn't seem to deter the guy...

Offline Truik

  • Perpetual Student
  • Moderator On Leave
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *
  • Posts: 2908
  • Karma: 65
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2010, 07:40:09 PM »
I like the motion sensor hooked up to the air horn.

No burglar is going to stick around and will probably try easier locations after it happens a few times.

When all the neighbors around you wake up every time it happens, SOMETHING will happen eventually. Either enough people will complain that the police will step up until he is caught, or the burglar will stop, or someone may get tired of it and start waiting up with their OWN weapon of choice for him to come around.


Offline creuzerm

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 422
  • Karma: 33
    • My Blog
Re: Copper Theft - How to Fight?
« Reply #29 on: November 07, 2010, 08:16:19 PM »
My grandparent's garage had all the copper wire ripped out of the walls. They busted up the sheetrock and just hacked the wire off and yanked it out. Did more damage than they could possibly get for the copper.

I just walked outside to look at my AC unit.

My fist observation is that there are a lot of standard nuts and bolts on it. I suppose replacing a few prominent ones with a security screw/bolt would annoy a potential thief. You'd want to have the tools for the security screws in case you need it serviced. I would probably keep a set by the interior air handler just for the service crew that way they can't get 'lost' in the meantime.

My second observation is that my unit isn't even bolted down! I've seen where a few units had been stolen where they where strapped down with plumbers tape. They just cut the metal tape and walked off with the unit. With mine not being bolted down, it would be a cinch to disconnect the electricity (which by code is right there), cut the 2 lines, and heave the thing over the low fence. My AC is next to my gas meter, so I shouldn't be driving posts down for fear of finding the gas line.
I think I am going to get a piece of re-bar and make 2 square loops that I can dig under the pad, that comes up and over the AC unit. A chain through a piece of pipe will secure the re-bar with a padlock across the top. The chain in a pipe trick I learned for towing vehicles. This is something I can do with a hack saw and no welder. If the chain just won't fit over the re-bar, try standing the one link on end and whacking it with a big hammer, the link will open up a bit as it gets rounder.

  I sketched it out in my idea notebook so I won't forget. It's not theft proof by any means, but it sure would make it easier to get the next one down the road over mine.

I've seen a lot of decorative housings in Florida for the AC units. I am thinking that adding one of these  that both looks nice and is strong would both appease the neighbors and annoy a thief. It would also hide the unit from the street if it's street visible like mine is.  Contrive a way to hook it under the pad so it can't be lifted off. Some wood lattice, screw it together from the inside out so you can't take it apart gently from the outside, and some hinges and a hasp on top with a lock, your golden!

I am also going to plant roses on the outside of that section of fence by the AC and blackberries on the inside. The gas meter man is just going to have to walk around the house instead of jumping my fence. The thorn bushes won't be close enough to the AC unit or gas meter to cause problems with servicing them, but it will keep 2 legged pests on the correct side of the fence.

If I really thought it was likely to be stolen - like some neighbors have recently walked off, or like the OP's instance an attempt was observed, a deer trail camera can be affixed to the peak of the roof pointing at the AC unit. They would need a ladder to retrieve it.