Copper Theft - The Next Wave In Tower Site Protection.

Discussion in 'State of the Industry Discussions' started by gene ledbetter, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. gene ledbetter

    gene ledbetter Friend of the Community

    Mississippi is considering passing a law that would make it a felony to purchase or sell stolen copper. If you are convicted of that crime you could get up to $10,000 in fines and ten years in prison.

    It may not stop the crack heads and other addicted felons from stealing copper, but it may have the scrap metal dealer cooperate with police. It?s laughable to think that the metal dealer doesn?t know that the copper he?s getting from a rummy breath isn?t stolen. Oh yea, 200 feet of perfectly good 4/0 copper is a common item found in every homeowners recycling bin.
  2. Scott Meador

    Scott Meador Guest

    There was once a day when Grandpa could step out on the back porch, look skyward at the lights on a tower, and say ?Mildred, write it down, the lights are flashing?. And the ?monitoring? job was completed. We soon evolved into more sophisticated methods to monitor not only tower lights, but every aspect of the tower site compound. Technology allowed for reporting, archived histories, and the ability to know what was wrong and in most instances, who or what to blame.

    Then came September 11th, and certain aspects of life changed inevitably. One of which is that we have to be continuously cautious and protective of ourselves, our community and our livelihoods. For those of us who depend upon the tower industry for our employment, it is encouraging to see the many groups and organizations who are working to establish guidelines and best practices to help achieve protection. Recent attendance at conventions such as NENA, APCO, CTIA, PCIA, and others, clearly demonstrate a groundswell of that activity.

    I would like to discuss one aspect of tower site security, the recent increase in copper thefts, as being responsible for more scrutiny by manufacturers and organizations. As most of us know, the problem is heating up, and several companies are determined to provide a "real" solution to this ever increasing threat to our communication infrastructure. During such catastrophes, as hurricanes, earthquakes or terrorist attacks, significant demands are put upon on the telecommunication system. Having part (or all) of the infrastructure out of service due to vandalism or theft is unacceptable. There are significant state and local laws to charge individuals with these offences, and in some instances, it can also be a federal offense. The issue is ? how do we quickly, accurately and safely determine that the crime is happening.

    The use of relatively inexpensive surveillance and security cameras on each tower site is one of the innovative methods being used by some of the tower owners and tower construction companies to help mitigate the theft and vandal activity. By deploying a stealth mounted camera that can pan, tilt, focus and provide real time live video feeds, individuals or network operations centers can safely and remotely observe and capture on video the activities occurring at the site.

    Some of the more recent developments allow products to be solar powered, or utilize motion and or heat sensing as activation methods. Thermal imaging, and night vision can also be utilized. The backhaul methods are equally as flexible, PCS, Satellite, IP, are some of the more common applications used. The bottom line is: These cameras offer a safe, affordable solution for this increasingly costly problem.

    It?s been suggested that our industry begin sending a message, to anyone who will listen, (especially the thieves): ?We are doing something now to save the cost of replacement and damage, protect our infrastructure and to all who would attempt it, you will be observed, apprehended, and charged with the crimes you are committing?.

    Sincerely ? Scott Meador
  3. David Lehrer

    David Lehrer Industry Observer

    I agree Scott. A lot of the "problem child" sites are not too difficult or expensive to protect with some type of system. If more states passed legislation that made stealing from a tower site a minimum of 2 to 5 years if convicted, we might see the occurrence drop. If they know they can go to a home construction site, knowing that they will only get a slap on the wrist for the felony, they'll stay away from the communications sites. But then again, those on crack and other drugs don't necessarily use common sense when their only concern is how to get their next rock.

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