#MetalTheft - Preventing The Theft Of Metals, Copper & Cables In The Electrical Power Industry

By Chris Dodds on 27th October, 2014

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#MetalTheft - Preventing The Theft Of Metals, Copper & Cables In The Electrical Power Industry

Yesterday, T&D met with Trace-In-Metal (#Metaltheft) to discuss the epidemic of metal theft in the UK electrical, cable and power industry - this crime especially affects copper cables, substation earthing systems and overhead line networks.

Both John Minary and Frank Kirk from Trace-In-Metal provided an excellent thought-provoking overview of the dangers and extent of metal theft and presented an innovative, market leading solution to possibly combatting copper crime.

A uniquely comprehensive metal protection system, Trace-In-Metal is a system designed to act as a significant deterent to those stealing or willing to handle stolen metal such as lead, copper and cables. 

This is done by making metal that has been marked with the TiM systems fully traceable.

How Does Trace-in-Metal Work? 

Trace-in-Metal works by infusing nickel micro dots into the metal in question, whether that be lead from a church roof, the lightning protection copper earth tape running down a building or a HV high voltage cable with copper conductors. The hexagonal nickel micro tags are of microscopic proportion measuring 6-10 microns thin and 0.5mm wide. This makes them incredibly hard for would be thieves to locate exactly where in the metal or cables they are located.

Each nickel tag contains an alpha-numeric code that is registered on the TiM metal register.

Pictured: Trace-in-Metal Hexagonal Microdots

Trace-in-Metal Hexagonal Microdots - Copper Cable Theft

The same code is repeated through the thousands of microdots that are supplied with each TiM kit. The tags are extremely robust and can withstand extreme temperatures as the melting point of Nickel is 1455ºC, far out weighing the melting point of copper(1085ºC), lead (327ºC) and most other metals. The micro dots can then be recovered at any stage of the scrap metal recycling process. 

The Cost Of Metal Theft

Between March 2012 and April 2013 there were 61,349 recorded metal theft offences in the UK. These are broken down into three categories which represent a different proportion of that figure. These are:

  1. Infrastructure Related Thefts
  2. Non-infrastructure Related Thefts
  3. Not-Classified Thefts

Pictured: UK Metal Theft Classifications Breakdown via gov.uk 

UK Metal Theft Breakdowns

The cost of these metal thefts is estimated to be around £220 million. This figure however is merely the direct cost of the tangible items stolen and does not take into consideration the cost of infrastructure downtime, loss of business productivity through power outages or even the problems that can be caused to hospitals or other emergency services if they lose power through stolen cable. 

Recent government legislation relating to scrap metal (Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013) and laws surrounding stolen metal have begun to clamp down on this problem, however the TiM system is designed to provide what has been previously missing when fully tracing metal that has been stolen. 

Pictured : #MetalTheft : According to the UK Government Home Office metal theft costs the UK economy £200 million each year. The Home Office is the UK government's department for policing, crime, counter-terrorism and immigration.


T&D And Trace-in-Metal

As one of the UK's most prominent distributors of HV LV cables and electrical equipment, T&D are perfectly placed to be able to fully support TiM in communicating their message to the UK electrical industry. The T&D team met with John Minary (Director) and Frank Kirk to discuss metal theft and options available to combat this crime within the electrical industry.

Pictured: Thorne & Derrick Meet The Trace in Metal Team, 8th October at T&D Gateshead. 

Left to right : Jack Nottidge (T&D Digital & SEO Marketing), John Minary (Managing Director - TiM), Chris Dodds (T&D UK Sales & Marketing Manager), Natalie Lundie (T&D Social Media Leader) and Frank Kirk. (Chairman - TiM)

Thorne & Derrick Meet The Trace in Metal Team

Video: The Dark Side Of Metal Theft. Everybody Is Affected. 

In the following Story, T&D provide a useful curated narrative adding context to the global threat of #MetalTheft. Storify is the easiest way to find, collect, and share what people are saying all over the web.

Trace in Metal. Metal Theft Deterrent.

Category:  Earthing & Lightning Protection

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