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Friday, April 2, 2010

Brilliance of copper thieves, or lack

We've been dealing with copper thieves for quite a while now. The small timers start out by stripping old abandoned houses, or raiding construction sites.

When a new level of desperation sets in, or they just feel competent enough, they start going after live stuff, or the grounds in substations. These guys pretty quickly end up like this unless they have some common sense and practical awareness of electricity, in which case they probably have some success for a while. But even the "good" live wire thieves get cocky, push their luck, and frequently end up dead in the end.

Some of the guys have figured out that, in some substations, there are large reels of brand new cable, begging for the taking. These are the smartest thieves, because they've found large quantities of wire that is not live, nor picking up potential like grounding straps. These reels are massively heavy, requiring a small crane to lift and move, so you're not going to get them onto a truck unless you bring some serious resources and a substantial flatbed. Sure enough, some guys do that, and they make off with reels of cable worth big time $$$$$.

The reel thieves cause such a big loss, in fact, that power companies now commonly install a device that is somewhat like the LoJack to catch car thieves, by placing the device inside the inner void of the reel through the side. When the crew needs to use the reel, they call the detection company and report which device is going to move, to preempt the alarm. Don't bother trying that yourself, though, there are way too many layers of protection to prevent outsiders from disabling or preventing the response. The only ones who succeed at that are on the "inside", and soon get caught anyway because we all know it's someone in the know, and it narrows the suspect list. Yeah, that actually happens.

But when the devices get activated without authorization, that's when the fun begins. The alarm company notifies us which one went off, and then we get to call the closest law enforcement agency and set them loose. On the screen, we get a live updating point on a map that we can see move, and we guide the cops in like an airstrike.

Yep, that is one of my favorite little sidebar parts of this job. When these get set off once every other month or so, and I get to hear the police dispatcher report back that a black and white has made the stop, I'm like.... YEAH. Freaking awesome. Bang baby, game over.

Anyway, I digress from the intent of this post, on the brilliance of the amateurs, or lack thereof.

A news story was being discussed here tonight, concerning an event that took place somewhere in Minnesota. I don't know what they were stealing from, but the upshot of the deal was that one of the bad guys apparently fell a good distance onto concrete and injured his back. Ouch dude, was this all worth it?

But the best part was that his two "friends" subsequently left him a jacket to keep warm, and then left him there. No 911, no first aid, just a jacket and so long sucks to be you see ya.

They eventually did call 911 after driving over an hour to get out of the county. I don't know if their motivation was guilt (perhaps they intended to just let him die and thus stay off the hook), or if they figured that the statute of limitations was also geography-based and that they were scot-free once across the county line.

But don't take my telling for granted, read it for yourself.

So, there's your latest installment of tales about people that are allowed to vote even though we shouldn't have to even share our air with them.


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