Announced today a partnership between four North Island power companies – Northpower, Countiespower, WEL and Powerco, with Police, Crimestoppers and AVI (Authentic Verification Identifiers) will run a 6-month trial aimed at stamping out metal theft.
The trial involves metal being tagged with a nanotag dot, invisible to the human eye, being attached to metal that runs the risk of being stolen.
When anyone attempts to sell this metal, it will immediately be identified as stolen and who from.
Powerco Acting Electricity Operations Manager Phil Marsh said the Company’s primary concern was that copper thieves were stripping components designed to keep people safe from the dangers of electricity.
“Copper thieves are putting themselves and members of the public at risk. 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,” Mr Marsh said.
Inspired by a similar trial that ran in Australia, where the results reduced metal theft by up to 70% in some areas, the New Zealand test follows their learning’s.
“Theft of copper from our electricity lines and infrastructure causes needless repair costs which are ultimately passed on to our customers. It also increases the risks of power outages and potential for injury. We are extremely pleased to take part in reducing this willful disregard for the safety of our staff and the community we serve”, said WEL Networks General Manager Asset Management, Tas Scott.
“The stupid thing about metal theft is often the person will risk their life to cut away power cable that might only be worth $25 resale. And if they do harm or kill themselves, they could also bring down a region’s power supply at the same time,” said Maggie Robertson, CEO Crimestoppers
In addition to the nanotag on the metal, an anonymous telephone line is being launched (0800 INFORM) to encourage local communities to report when they suspect metal being stolen or traded.
For further information please contact Maggie@crimestoppers-nz.org