When Copper Prices Go Wild, Security Biz Soars

Watch a copper theft in action, and learn how one alarm dealer boosts business by selling copper-theft-prevention systems.

Self-contained surveillance/alarm systems from Videofield can help thwart copper theft.
Julie Jacobson · June 22, 2011

Thieves in Minneapolis recently raided 16 public restrooms for brass toilet flushes and valves that can be sold for scrap, reports today’s St. Paul Pioneer Press. The hoodlums also are cutting copper ground wire from utility poles.

Twin Cities police have seen an increase in copper theft cases this year, the newspaper reports.

In the past year, copper prices have risen nearly 40 percent on the New York Mercantile Exchange. And when copper prices soar, so does business for companies that market copper theft prevention.

Atronic Alarms, Lenexa, Kansas, knows all too well this new wave of crime, which has thieves stealing gutters, pipes, wire, ductwork and other copper products from buildings and fields. In nearby Kansas City, thieves stripped copper from 10 to 15 locomotives at a transportation company, leaving the company with a $1 million loss, reports the Kansas City Star.

Atronic offers two different security solutions to deter copper theft, or at least identify the offenders.

Stealing wire from an equipment room: Watch a copper thief in action.

First is a solution jointly offered by wireless alarm provider Inovonics and sensor manufacturer GRI to deter copper theft in air conditioner units. The GRI HVAC Kit (shown below) consists of two tilt switches and a 2.2K end-of-line resistor embedded in epoxy. The tilt switches are mounted on opposite corners of the air conditioner unit and wired in a closed loop series through the copper coils.

An Inovonics universal transmitter with EOL resistor protection is then connected to the wire loop and mounted inside of a weatherproof enclosure. If the cover to the air conditioner unit is tipped or removed, or if the wire is cut, the transmitter signals the head end security panel to alarm.

Atronic also offers a surveillance/alarm system from Videofied (, which provides dealers with a full array of marketing materials for copper theft prevention.

The self-contained, battery-powered Videofied Copper Theft Kit includes video cameras with integrated motion sensor and IR illumination. Up to 24 cameras can communicate to one control panel, which transmits a 10-second video clip over the cellular network upon an alarm event.

The system also integrates with legacy security panels.

HVAC theft prevention kit from GRI and Inovonics

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

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