Copper Thefts and Their Affect on the UK’s Railroads

As the economy throughout the world, and in Great Britain began to sink at the latter part of the last decade, copper thefts were on the rise. There is a direct and measurable correlation between a poor economy and copper thefts, which is tied together through a complex equation of supply and demand. While homeowners and businesses have faced the prospect of having pipes and electrical wiring stolen from their vacant properties, it has moved into more occupied space, as well as other industries.

The electrical suppliers throughout the country have been facing the prospect and very real costs associated with copper thefts and while the cost of copper continues to increase, making it more expensive to replace the stolen items, that increase is price also make thieves more determined than ever to take what they want, without regard for the cost burden it is placing on the general population and society as a whole.

However, these electrical suppliers have been working with engineers to find more effective ways to prevent copper thefts. They have realized that it is cost prohibitive, if not practically impossible, to keep determined thieves from breaking into properties to take what they want. The solution is about making is too challenging to remove the copper or gain access to it.

The railway industry in the country has been feeling the pressure as well to protect its valuable assets of copper, not merely for their bottom line (It was reported in a recent Guardian article, ‘According to one rail industry estimate, copper theft costs the UK economy £770m a year’), but more importantly for the safety of its cargo and passengers that travel throughout the countryside every day.

From switches to electrical, there are many threats to the railway industry that are often overlooked and the cost is staggering. Here is an article from the Independent detailing how copper theft is second only to terrorism in threat to the UK’s infrastructure. 

Engineers are working with industry leaders to devise creative ways to protect these components from copper thieves. It is these same engineers that labour behind the scenes, without any recognition or gratitude, to devise the most effective ways to put a damper on the theft of this valuable resource.

Leaders in a number of industries acknowledge that they are not going to be able to effectively stop the desire of copper thieves to figure out to bypass security, and with lawmakers discussing ways to help stem the purchase of stolen copper being viewed as ‘closing the stable gates after the horse has escaped,’ it is imperative that every step be taken, devised, and designed to protect the existing copper.

When the effort required to free the desired copper from its housing outweighs the benefit of taking it, then thefts will diminish. This will hinge on the incredible potential and creative energies of engineers.

Here’s a video from ITV Meridian discussing ways the UK Railway industry is working to put a stop to copper theft in order to keep our trains running.