Mitigating Risks Caused By Metal Theft In Electrical Transmission & Distribution Network

By Chris Dodds on 19th February, 2016

Follow us on LinkedIn

Mitigating Risks Caused By Metal Theft In Electrical Transmission & Distribution Network

The Issues Caused By Metal Infrastructure Theft

Grounding infrastructure theft causes major service and continuity issues as well as safety issues on substations. To truly mitigate these problems with 24 hour human intervention is costly and requires timely detection. 

Therefore, a technology has been developed in collaboration with power network operators in order to provide a detection capability.

The primary areas of risk addressed are:

  • Personnel and public safety due to the risk of injury or death from electrocution. 
  • Service outage due to substation problems caused by immediate or cumulative stress to key infrastructure.

#Metaltheft costs the UK over £220m a year and this is just the cost of the physical metal - this does not take into account the consequential costs surrounding the problem. 

Read more :

Electricity Substations - The Hidden Cost Of Metal Crime To A UK DNO

Pictured: #Metaltheft Costs The UK Economy £200m A Year

#metaltheft costs the UK 200m pounds per year

Mitigating The Risks Of Metal Infrastructure Theft

Key to mitigating the related risks and disruptions from metal theft is timely interception and knowledge of the events. Current protection relay systems that are in place within electrical networks do not notify the operator upon metal theft. This can potentially leave thefts undetected indefinitely resulting in greater outages and safety risks. 

In both the UK and USA, electrical network operators have been researching a solution with security technologies being the primary solution set to try and reduce the incident rate. 

The key factors that this system must adhere to prior to installation are:

  • Real time detection and notification of theft
  • Must not introduce any signal into the site
  • Practical deployment methodology that does not disrupt service delivery
  • Suitable for deployment on old and new sites
  • Suitable for deployment on both small and large substations
  • Minimal or zero false alarms
  • Does not compromise current safety infrastructure or practice
  • Cost effective asset with regards to both capital and lifetime costs
  • Difficult to circumvent

The solution that has been developed addresses the primary issue: substation grounding theft. 

Detecting and alerting to grounding theft activity on small and large substations, with the primary purpose of notifying the operator that safety has been compromised.

The CuTS system monitors and detects removal of grounding/earthing material by checking for slight but steady changes in the physical characteristics of the grounded infrastructure. 

The Outcome And Benefits Of The Cresatech System

The safety and service issues that exist over the entire power network has led operators to look for cost effective methods and solutions for combatting substation metal theft. 

Any solution that is going to be used, must be suitable for wide network deployment on both small and large substations as current systems do not alert the user to theft unless the entire grounding system is removed which is rarely the case. 

The aim is to alert as theft events occur in order to reduce and mitigate safety and service risks. 


  • Further reading :

Cresatech ZS CuTs Copper Theft 1 of 2 : For Monitoring of Copper Grounded & Earthed Systems

Cresatech ZM CuTs Copper Theft 2 of 2 : For Monitoring of High Voltage Substations



Thorne & Derrick are inviting you to join LinkedIn’s fastest growing Discussion Group : Low & High Voltage Power, Cabling, Jointing, & Hazardous Area Electricals (LV-HV).

Discussion subjects include cable installations, cable jointing, electrical substation, overhead line and electrical construction at LV, 11kV, 33kV and EHV.

Network, engage and promote your profile, company or products with over 10,000 influencers.

linkedin-logo Click Here To Join

Category:  Earthing & Lightning Protection

Go back to blog index