Copper is one of the most used metals in the world: electricity, water, communications, transportation … It is so quoted that only in Spain there is a theft of copper cable every hour. It could be said that the price of copper fluctuates almost mathematically due to the thefts that this raw material suffers all over the planet.
Currently 23 million tons of copper are consumed per year, twice as much as two decades ago. Its price was drastically reduced, dropping from $ 10,000 per ton in 2011 to $ 5,862 today, among other reasons for the fear of recession looming in China in 2015 (largest producer and consumer of copper worldwide).
Spain on the one hand enjoys a surplus of copper, consuming 310,000 tons of the 390,000 annually produced, mainly in the mines of Huelva and Seville. It is understood that 80,000 tons are sold legally for export. Even so, illegal business is still very active, with a total of 8150 thefts registered in 2015, leaving more than 1,000 detainees and other victims killed by electrocution suffered during the robbery. Before the wave of robberies, the Spanish government reacted activating a Response Plan that involved Guardia Civil, National Police, autonomous and local.
Thefts happen mainly in electric cables, transformers and substations, solar farms, telephone lines and catenary, being the rural area the most affected, being the least watched. These thefts have grave consequences, leaving municipalities without Internet and telephone several days. As a result, ADIF, the operator of our rail network, has reported more than 600 hours of delays between 2015 and 2016 caused by copper theft in both conventional and high-speed tracing.
Historically the profile of criminals who stole in Spain was a marginal population that extracted the wiring, took it to a wasteland to remove the plastic wrap that later burned to leave no trace. This bare copper was finally sold to a scrap metal company which ended casting it. However, international mafias have now broken in, who consider copper theft a profitable business because of the lower risk that they assume.
Alicia García Franco, president of the Spanish Federation of Recovery and Recycling explains: «Recovery companies are one of the main victims, as the mafias take advantage of the fact that recycling has been completed to steal it during transport. The modus operandi consists of assaulting the trucks carrying the recycled copper to the foundry and heading to the border. »
Infrastructures are also systematically attacked. Operation Cuprum of 2015 dismantled a band of 13 people, authors of 24 thefts in substations of Adif. Many irrigation communities have also lamented the theft of copper cables especially at pumping stations. This not only causes «serious economic damage to the community itself, but the suspension of supply that, due to a drop in pressure, affects those farmers whose farms are further away from the exit point of water.»
Solutions are needed to sort out the problem of copper theft
There is a demand for a greater presence of State Security Forces especially in rural areas, electrical substations, irrigation communities or solar farms that remain more isolated and vulnerable.
Many times, it is opted to install alarms that allow to identify the intruders before the robbery occurs. Nevertheless, the speed of action of these bands allows them to be successful, having already produced the destruction of the infrastructure. They also try to block the manhole covers and lids with safety locks, but the clear majority are not sufficiently secure and robust, so brute force can break them up.
Fundilock: IVERNA copper anti-theft solution, telephone cable and sewage lids
At Iverna we are well aware of the problems that this issue can reach. Therefore, we have developed the new anti-theft accessory, to protect any foundry product from the market and avoid theft of copper cable theft very common in so many places. Thanks to its geometry and availability of diameters and qualities can secure any manhole cover. This patented and innovative product has been installed in numerous places including the United States and several European countries.
Nuclear power plants like Asco, Bandellos, Almaraz Cáceres and Trillo in Madrid, as well as several municipalities, rely on Fundilock to combat the existing security problem of theft of covers that protect the quoted copper cable.
On our website you will find more information about Fundilock. If you are suffering sporadic robberies and need to block a manhole cover, purchase a small kit of 2 units through Amazon, quality AISI-304 solid steel in three sizes available (100mm, 130mm and 150mm).