Locked Up

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The take-out

You don't want the perp to get to this stage. This is where actual damage to your transmission system can be done and possibly cause off-air time if some live electrical wires are pulled out. Depending on how much time the perp has wasted on the preceding stages, police officers should have arrived at this time. Early detection and a prompt 911 call can make a big difference in preventing damage to your facility.

Deter thieves by letting them know they're being watched.

Deter thieves by letting them know they're being watched.

The thief at this point may use tools to un-screw equipment from a rack or dismantle some copper from the ground. The use of Torx screws or other means that require special tools from dismounting equipment from a rack should be used. Keys to other rooms should be hidden. Tools should be in a tool box that will be difficult to lift (if bonded to the wall or floor) or un-lock.

Surveillance cameras at strategic places can help ID the thief for use later on in the prosecution. A motion activated alarm can still stop a thief at this point. It is better to have a PA system for the Master Control operator to talk him out of the job. The psychological pressure of being in haste, plus the knowledge of being observed, and talked to at the same time can still stop a thief from doing damage to the facility. The thief may have nerves of steel but the annoyance of the ear-piercing alarm may cause him to hurt himself in pulling out the loot or just abandon the job in disgust.

The haul

This is where the thief hauls his loot onto his escape vehicle. He would want to do this as fast as he can so this stage may last only a few minutes.

One strategy you can use is to delay the hauling of loot to give police officers more time to get to the site. If police officers catch them in the act of hauling copper, the thieves are easier to prosecute. If you have road blocks or other means to prevent their escape vehicles from getting close to where the loot is, it makes it harder to do the hauling.

Once the thief or thieves get onto the vehicle with the loot, it becomes harder to apprehend them since it may require a dangerous chase if police officers arrive at this point. You don't want anyone to get hurt particularly if the chase gets into the highway, possibly involving other motorists or pedestrians. All that trouble for some piece of scrap metal? It is better to get them at the next stage.

Marketing is where a thief turns into a businessman under whatever guise will get him through the deal. He may sell within the state where he stole the loot or he is already working with a junk shop under a previous arrangement. This is a stage in the process where partnership with local authorities is the only way to deal with the crime.

Working with local authorities, including lawmakers makes it harder for scrap metal shops to participate in transactions involving copper that may be stolen. You need to make previous arrangements with scrap metal shops with regards to their buying of copper metal that look like transmission line parts. These shops should be required to take photo IDs of sellers, inform the police and pay only with checks as preventive measures.

No one wants to be a victim of a theft that may cause the station thousands of dollars in replacement costs. This analysis should provide action steps that will suit your organization's loss prevention objectives and thereby secure your site.

Lintag is an RF engineer for Victory TV Network, Little Rock, AR.

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