New alarm technology helps combat metal and fuel theft

A portable alarm system that can film thieves and link them to crimes in remote locations using DNA technology is seen by police as a major step towards helping to combat a massive rise in metal and fuel theft.

Feb 16, 2012
By Paul Jacques
NFRN national president Narinder Randhawa

A portable alarm system that can film thieves and link them to crimes in remote locations using DNA technology is seen by police as a major step towards helping to combat a massive rise in metal and fuel theft.

The Armadillo and Alarmed and Traceable Technology Solutions System (AATTS), developed by Kilmarnock-based PID Systems, are the first purpose-built alarms for protecting vulnerable properties and locations to be approved and recommended by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

The rise in metal and petrol theft has been prompted by a hike in global prices for both commodities. The price of copper rose from £889 a tonne in November 2001, to a high of £6,356 a tonne, recorded last year. According to HM Revenue and Customs, an estimated 10,000 incidents of metal theft every year costs the UK economy more than £5.6billion in lost revenue.

With petrol expected to reach an unprecedented £1.40 a litre by the end of the summer, police have also reported a massive rise in fuel theft from private vehicles. Some forces have reported increases of more than 100 per cent in the past 12 months.

And incidents of heating oil theft doubled in the first six months of last year compared with the same period in 2010, according to insurer NFU Mutual.

The Armadillo system is wireless, so it doesn’t need to be connected to a mains supply. It is vandal-resistant and can be installed quickly and easily.

The AATTS, designed specifically for rooftop locations, sounds when an intruder is detected, notifying the owner of the building and capturing any attempted theft on video.

It is used in conjunction with an indelible red UV dye that can only be seen under UV light. It coats intruders with a unique encrypted molecular marking agent that can be linked back to the crime scene.

Jacqui Shiel, development manager for ACPO’s Secured by Design initiative, said: “Metal and fuel theft are growing problems which can be very expensive to address, both in the cost of replacing materials taken and in effecting repairs. Early notification of a potential problem is very important in preventing this disruption and identifying those responsible.

“PID Systems’ alarms are an effective weapon in the fight against metal and fuel theft because they can be deployed quickly and easily in a wide variety of internal and external locations. They use the latest technology to provide an adaptable early warning and detection system.”

Gordon McIntyre, a director of PID Systems, said: “Metal and fuel theft are huge problems in all sorts of locations, many of which are remote with no mains power supply, such as at railway sidings, where there are large quantities of copper cables, and on lead-lined roofs.

“The AATTS has a proven track record in stopping theft of lead and copper roofing materials. It comprises a wireless, vandal-resistant camera, 3G/GPRS communications, giving real-time notifications of intruder activity, allowing timely intervention and prevention. Should a theft occur, DNA coding provides an irrefutable link between suspects and stolen material, leading to police conviction.”

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