According to the Metal Bulletin, weaker prices may be making copper and other metals less attractive to thieves, but the pricing plunge has not translated into weaker sentences.

A South Carolina Circuit Court handed down a 25-year prison sentence to a 39-year-old Spartanburg, S.C., man for his role in a copper theft ring. Carl Parris pleaded guilty to 13 counts of accessory after the fact of a felony, 11 counts of petty larceny and two counts of malicious injury to real property, according to a statement from the criminal prosecutor for Spartanburg and Cherokee counties and as reported by Metal Bulletin.

There is no doubt that businesses have seen a rise in copper theft world wide since 2005 due to the increase of copper prices. Now it has become a serious problem throughout the United States.

GDI LLC, an outdoor perimeter security solution provider, was invited by the Florida Municipal Electric Association to give a speech on utility security at the Energy Connections Conference just week ago.

Mike Provencher, a GDI perimeter protection specialist, presented ideas on how to deal with copper theft and utility facility security. Electricity, water and heat are a critical part of our nation’s infrastructure. Provencher stated that, it is essential that we protect our infrastructure from vandals, thieves, protestors and most importantly terrorists who wish to inflict heavy causalities amongst the general population, disrupt the ability for the US to defend itself from attack and/or cripple the economy.

Provencher introduced several ways to prevent these aforesaid incidents from happening, such as, signs and warnings, communication and coordination, fencing, lighting and intrusion detection, reward programs and wire devaluation. Post warning signs (High voltage, security video, and electrified fence security system in operation) are important so that unauthorized personnel give up and/or delay illegal activities at the facility. Communication with other facilities would benchmark what system and equipment they would need and work with local law enforcement agencies. Chain link fences, which are the most common way around perimeters, are not enough to protect utility facilities and are easy to penetrate. Therefore it is vital that we install better fences, for example, cut proof material wires or interior non lethal electrified fences. Utility companies also started reward programs for information leading to arrests. Another method to decrease copper theft is Wire devaluation, where each piece of copper is marked by county, state, or company logo.

There are perimeter intrusion detection systems. Security starts from the facility perimeter. If a facility looks easy to defeat, perpetrators will not hesitate to target and penetrate the facility. Barrier sensors, fence mounted sensors, free standing sensors, video motion sensors and buried sensors are designed to protect the outer perimeter of facilities. Providing a deterrence factor is the most important attribute in the capability of a system. The perpetrators, after examining the requirements to defeat the perimeter in order to intrude, have concluded it is too difficult and have decided to move to another location in order to effect their criminal intent.

GDI’s Aegis line of perimeter control systems provide critical infrastructure clients with the ability to implement deterrence, detection, delay and defend techniques under one application. The GDI security platform offers versatility in design which provides solutions that meet the differing requirements of each organization or site, from basic intrusion detection to stringent perimeter control.