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High-Voltage Fences For Zapping Would-Be Copper Thieves 363

coondoggie writes "It may be a gimmick or the ultimate answer, but a California city this week okay-ed a draft ordinance that would let businesses install 7,000-volt electric fences to protect sites from rampant copper thieves. As reported by the Sacramento CBS station, the reaction from one business owner to the ordinance says it all: 'It'll be a little fun to watch one of these guys get electrocuted holding my fence trying to rob me.'"
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High-Voltage Fences For Zapping Would-Be Copper Thieves

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  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @05:34PM (#42060203)
    Start making the recyclers who pay cash for copper keep records and start prosecuting them for receiving stolen goods.
  • by buybuydandavis ( 644487 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @05:48PM (#42060367)

    Yeah, because regulatory compliance and associated paperwork, government inspections, lawsuits, and penalties impose 0 costs on businesses.

    And since everyone wants to be recorded in government registries, because everyone wants to fill in forms, because everyone is literate enough to fill in forms, it won't deter anyone from recycling either.

  • Re:A lot of fun (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NIK282000 ( 737852 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @05:53PM (#42060419) Homepage Journal

    Bingo, as stupid as copper thieves are they'll figure out in a hurry that a cheap pair of gloves and some cutters will make short work of an electric fence.

  • by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @05:55PM (#42060453) Homepage Journal

    I am so glad that systems need to be perfect and costs need to be 0 before we're willing to accept them.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @06:27PM (#42060849)

    Tough shit, they had their chance for the zero regulation solution but their greed and willful ignorance is putting and end to that.

    It was just easy money for them -- the toothless loser driving the '98 Grand Am turning in a few hundred feet of brand-new 00 wire was perfectly willing to accept 30% below melt value for the wire and the owner was happy to resell it as new to the "ask no questions" contractor at a 15% discount below new retail.

    If you want it no regulation, that's fine, but let's make the punishments if you get caught:

    1) Accepting stolen merchandise -- clerk goes to jail
    2) Business is fined 3x the metal value and the metal or its on-site equivilent is confiscated
    3) Three violations in a 12 month period and you lose your recycling license for six months
    4) Two loss of license violations? Company, its owners and officers are barred from engaging in commercial metal recycling for 10 years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @06:33PM (#42060913)

    Well, if a police get a report of a house that had a crapton of copper tubing ripped out of the walls and floors, and then discover a crapload of copper tubing just happened to be sold to a scrap dealer shortly thereafter... it's not exactly a convoluted path to draw a line between the two. And given how much damage and work you'd need to do to rip tubing out of walls and floors, they can probably find some kind of evidence directly linking to the two. Hell, multiple identically-angled cuts from the identical grade copper scrap and what's left in the house is probably a good start, never mind any DNA evidence the thief left at the scene (hair, blood if he cut himself, skin, etc).

    Honestly, it would be trivially easy to link a thief with stolen scrap metal, provided the scrap dealer actually keeps fucking records like he's legally supposed to as is.

    And I happen to work in an industry where I know exactly what type of paperwork the scrap dealer needs, and for how long he legally needs to keep it (note: it's a bit longer than a few days. Try years.)

    Shut down or heavily fine a few scrap yards for buying illegal scrap without keeping proper documentation, and the rest will require valid photo ID to sell to them and have video surveillance of the sale counter before the end of the day.

  • Free Drugs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @06:33PM (#42060915)
    How about instead of spending billions on replacing stolen goods and electric fences and insurance we instead spend millions giving away free crack, heroin and other addictive drugs? You get a card and you can go to a drug store and get free heroin. We'd save a LOT of dollars.
  • I like how he overlooks the cost to the companies, people, and governments having copper stolen.

  • by west ( 39918 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @06:40PM (#42060991)

    > but the cost of crime* is invariably far higher than the cost of policing.

    Homeland Security

  • Oh please. You clearly have no clue about any aspect of this at all.

    "So you would punish the innocent with more paperwork and regulations along with the guilty?"
    no. I would make it a regulation to maintain who sells you copper. Just like pawnshops have to do with their merchandise.
    It's not punishment any more then having to maintain fire safety codes is a punishment.

    " That doesn't sound very appealing to me. "
    less appealing then the millions of dollars in stolen copper costs everybody every year? Business who have increased their cost becasue of stolen copper. Government who need to increase the budget becasue of stolen copper. Who do you think pays for that?

    " it's not like thieves wouldn't lie anyways, which would give the recycles who take stolen goods plausible deniability."
    That is why you have a thumb print and picture. When someone who had stolen copper reports it, all the recycles get an alert. If you have the property, you contact the police.
    You give them the idea of the person who bought it.

    It's not hard, or expensive.

    Once people doing the stealing realize they will be held accountable, or can't find anyone to recycle it, copper theft will decrease.

  • I think you don't actual have a clue and are making that up.

    We are talking about huge rolls of unused wire, industrial valves that cost 30k+, statues. Sometimes 100's of yards of copper.

    So when some cones tolling it with a giant spool of wire in there truck, that person gets photographed. If someone reports large bundles of wire stolen, then police can ask that person questions .

    Forensics. You need to watch less CSI.
    The police report a large copper valve has been stole and provide description. The get a thumb print and picture. Possible an address(which may be a lie).
    Then they do investigation.

  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @07:22PM (#42061427) Homepage

    It's illegal to receive stolen goods. Stolen copper is stolen goods. Copper is not something that's routinely recycled. Requiring identification and a paper trail to sell copper is really not my definition of onerous regulation.

    But the real lesson here is that the economy is so bad for people at the bottom that they are willing to go to the effort of stealing copper to make their monthly nut. Stealing copper is _hard_. People don't do it if they have a better alternative. Furthermore, copper theft has a _huge_ amplification value—the cost of replacing stolen copper is way more than the copper is worth.

    What's the real fix for this? Not 7000-volt fences. Social justice. Decent pay for a day's work. Desperation is what leads to copper theft.

  • by denbesten ( 63853 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @08:29PM (#42061961)

    Having worked in the recycling industry for years, solving the "sales" side of this is easy.

    A posted and implemented policy of paying by check if the payout is greater than $20 makes most of these problems go away.

    This works because large volumes comes in trucks and legitimate businesses generally prefer to receive a check (prevents employee skimming).

    After that, invest in a few video cameras, particularly one trained at the parking lot exit (to pick up rear license plates). Attach these to a motion-detecting video recorder and make sure you know how to burn DVDs. The few times we have had to involve law enforcement, they were pretty happy with a plate number and footage including a face and "the goods".

    So far, we have never had the check cashed, but if we did, the cops would then have a tie to the criminal's financial institution and we would join their case with a counter-suit to get our money back.

    Keep in mind that we really do not want to make an illegal buck, but at the same time, we also want to earn the legal bucks as efficiently as possible.

  • by TFAFalcon ( 1839122 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @08:55PM (#42062139)

    If businesses are people, then why aren't they put in jail when they break laws? Why aren't they required to pay income taxes, social security, serve in the army if there is a draft,.......

    Businesses may EMPLOY people, and they can be OWNED by people. But they are certainly not people themselves.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @11:54PM (#42063483)

    Yeah yeah, another pothead who wants legal drugs. Meth at the drug store? Fuck you.

    I'm tired of rich, white well-to-do hipster liberals like yourself who think legal drugs are a magical cure for all our problems. It's a solution that works for YOUR way of life, not for everybody else's.

    I'm poor and have been homeless for eight years of my life. I've seen drug abuse first hand and it is fucking terrible. Just look at how poor people handle alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription medicine. We abuse the hell out of it. Why do you think every run down neighborhood is teeming with liquor stores, run by people who live out of town? There's a huge demand because we drink to forget, we get high to numb ourselves. We have miserable lives and we need to escape as often as we can. Legalizing drugs is like giving an heroin addict $1000 and assuming he won't misuse it. He'd OD in an hour.

    Flooding us with legal drugs is just what white hipster douchebag 20-somethings want to simplify their habit. Now you can get high on your family skiing trips easier, or in your dorm. That it will somehow help the poor is a label you can conveniently apply to make it look like you are enriching our lives.

      Stop act like you are doing us a favor. If you gave a shit you'd help the poor rise above the entrapment of vices and the fucking vicious cycle of dependency and addiction. This whole pro-drug movement really feels like a way to destroy the lower class. Everyone else can get high conveniently and go to their rehab when things get out of hand, and the rest of us will drown in a sea of cheap, legal drugs.

    It's just another way to keep us down.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.