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Copper Theft: Protect Against Invaders Such as Bubbles from HBO's "The Wire"
September 02, 2008

Copper Theft: Protect Against Invaders Such as Bubbles from HBO's "The Wire"

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

It may have seemed harmless enough on “The Wire,” when in the first season (sixth episode) of the landmark HBO series, Johnny Weeks and Reginald “Bubbles” Cousins run a short con to steal copper piping for their next drug purchase.

Yet experts say that as the value of copper rises – it’s worth about $3 to $4 per pound, according to some estimates – so does the threat of copper theft as a serious crime.
Recently, a Fresno, California-based network alarm monitoring developer put out a new, free guide that’s designed to help consumers ward off copper theft.
The white paper, from DPS Telecom, called the “Copper Theft Prevention Advisory,” includes suggestions about whether visual surveillance, alarms, motion sensors or analog sensors may work best for a consumer’s particular case.
According to DPS President Eric Storm (News - Alert), copper thieves are emboldened – and though the wire they steal can be replaced, the act may cause network outages that severely damage consumers and providers.
“You’re at the greatest copper theft risk at your unmanned sites,” Storm said, according to reports. “They’re in remote areas where no one is physically able to watch the site. Fortunately, you have several good choices for electronic surveillance.”
Stealing copper has become more attractive to thieves, according to DPS, as the product leads to quick cash. Yet the theft of copper can affect not just telecom, but also industries such as transportation, public safety and power.
DPS officials say their advisory relies on experience gained from deploying systems all over the world. With useful information, DPS says, copper thieves will be deterred, or at least victims of the theft will have the tools to help authorities catch those trying to steal from them.
“You can’t be everywhere at once,” Storm said. “But you can deploy an effective monitoring system so you can swiftly respond. We’ve had cases where clients using our system alerted police of a copper theft in progress. The police were able to catch the criminals and stop the theft.”
For Bubbles on “The Wire,” copper theft didn’t pan out.
His former partner, Weeks, overdoses and dies, and he feels personally responsible when Sherrod, a young teenage boy who has taken up with him, mistakenly ingests a lethal shot of heroin and sodium cyanide that Bubbles created in order to get rid of a vagrant who has been robbing and beating him.
The episode motivates Bubbles to get clean for a year and to begin selling The Baltimore Sun newspaper to make money. Eventually, Bubbles makes peace with Sherrod’s death at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, and a fine reporter for the paper writes the reformed addict’s story in the Sun, prompting Bubbles’ own sister, who has all but disowned him, to bring him back into her life.
Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users. Today’s featured white paper is The Compelling ROI Benefits of Contact Center Quality and Performance Management Technologies, brought to you by Voice Print International (News - Alert).

Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael´┐Żs articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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