City Utilities of Springfield, MO uses Axis thermal cameras to catch copper thieves after dark
“Given that copper thieves generally hit our substations under cover of darkness, the Axis thermal cameras help us detect suspicious movement, and the Axis PTZ cameras give us enough detail about attire to help law enforcement apprehend intruders.“ Nick Rasey, Manager of Physical Security for City Utilities of Springfield, MO..
Hard economic times and the skyrocketing value of recycled copper, which reached $3 per pound, have led to an alarming rise in copper theft at Springfield, Missouri’s unmanned electricity substations. In just the first two months of 2012, City Utilities (CU) recorded 17 incidents of copper theft from its power substations. The utility needed a surveillance solution to watch over its barbed wire-topped, 7 ft. chain link fence and help alert police in time to catch the thieves in the act.
NetWatch, Inc., a Springfield, Missouri-based IP surveillance system provider with multiple Axis Certified Professionals on staff, recommended an array of Axis thermal and pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) network cameras to detect break-ins and track intruders in real time. Cameras at each of the 47 unmanned substations stream video 24/7 to the company’s central security office. Heat signatures and motion detection alerts help the staff verify the nature of incidents and whether the people on video are authorized employees before calling local law enforcement or their own security service to investigate.
In addition to eliminating a rash of false alarms, the thermal and PTZ network cameras are helping CU mitigate the risk of trespassers tampering with live ground wires and creating the potential for electrocution. The real-time alerts have also helped law enforcement respond to incidents more quickly, causing suspects to flee or be caught before they can cut wires and interrupt the flow of electricity to the city.