To catch a thief

Anti-theft markings

For many industries, utilities and railways, cable (i.e. metal) theft is a serious problem, leading to heavy financial loss and threats to public safety. This patented solution, which interleaves a coded copper tape into the conductor, is probably the simplest and best answer to copper robbery.

Indelible “fingerprints”

Since thieves burn off insulations to eliminate telltale signs, a thin copper tape is intertwined with the conductors. At regular intervals, a punched legend in dot matrix format contains information about the original cable owner. Because heat anneals the tape, it becomes extremely easy to read.


For some time now, French railways have suffered regular service disruptions due to copper theft. Last year, RFF (SNCF’s owner) requested suggestions from cable manufacturers. Solutions like micro-chipping and adding hard-to-cut high-tensile steel to the conductor are far more expensive than intertwining a thin copper tape into the conductor. Since the copper tape contributes to conductivity, the input wire diameters can be reduced. This leaves only punching and insertion of the tape as extra production costs.

Crime no longer pays

The real losers are thieves and illicit scrap dealers! Police obtain rapid and positive proof of ownership of stolen cables; so the guilty have little time to deny possession or disappear. The train authorities and utility companies spend less time on emergency repairs or cable replacement. And finally, the general public benefits since there is less disruption to railways and other vital service networks. The first order from RFF for this value-added product will be installed in four regions on their infrastructure and more are bound to follow.