Copper wire tagging trial aims to deter thieves

FRANCES FERGUSON
Last updated 11:24 07/08/2014

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A new tracking system to find stolen copper and keep thieves from electrocuting themselves and others is being trialled in Huntly.

The nanotag brand protection technology is being used by four North Island power companies, Northpower, Counties Power, Powerco and Wel Networks to mark their copper wiring used for power lines.

The six-month project is being supported by Huntly police, Crimestoppers and AVI (Authentic Verification Identifiers).

Constable Corey Rees, of the Huntly police, said 10 power poles had been targeted in Huntly over the past six months and it appeared the thefts were premeditated.

"[Offenders] are targeting rural areas like Rotowaro and Renown. They know what they're doing. They must have had the tools to shimmy up the pole or they must have had a ladder."

The project has been under way since June.

A minute serial number is sprayed on to metal at risk of being stolen, which can be identified and tracked as soon as it is taken.

Powerco acting electricity operations manager Phil Marsh said thieves were stripping components designed to keep people safe from the dangers of electricity.

"These thefts remove parts of the network designed to protect people and property and our concern is one day one of these thefts could lead to an electrocution."

Wel Networks general manager asset management Tas Scott said copper theft caused needless repair costs which were ultimately passed on to customers.

People are encouraged to report any suspected metal being stolen or traded, by phoning 0800 INFORM.

Frances Ferguson is a communications student from AUT.

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- Waikato Times

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