To thwart copper thefts from street lights, Elecsys Light Guard Pulse combines monitoring and alerts

Updated Aug 1, 2018
Elecsys Corporation is offering a new product that, once installed, aims to deter copper thieves from stealing copper to sell on a black market. With pedestal-based installation, the Light Guard Pulse saves time and money, the company says.Elecsys Corporation is offering a new product that, once installed, aims to deter copper thieves from stealing copper to sell on a black market. With pedestal-based installation, the Light Guard Pulse saves time and money, the company says.

Overhead highway lights and street lights are popular targets for copper thieves – as many governmental agencies can attest.

Take Bradenton, Florida, for example, where in April thieves made off with about 1,000 feet of copper wire, cutting power on several street lights, according to a report from Fox 13 television station.

And for years, residents in Tulsa, Oklahoma found themselves occasionally driving on darkened roadways as thieves gutted 33 miles of street light wiring, costing millions in damages, according to media reports.

Elecsys Corporation of Olathe, Kansas, is offering one way to tackle the problem: The Light Guard Pulse remote monitoring system provides enhanced street light control and alerts for cities and DOTs.

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This patented technology has been helping to keep roadways safe, the company says, while helping to eliminate the costly repairs necessary after theft or damage.

“The Light Guard Pulse’s patented technology provides 24/7 remote monitoring and control of streetlights while also providing detection of copper theft and buried cable damage,” says Mike Morgan, president of Elecsys.

“Our system reduces energy and installation costs, and in the event of copper theft, it sends an immediate alert to system operators who can quickly dispatch law enforcement to the scene.”

Municipalities and states, along with construction sites and a host of private and nonprofit businesses, have been targeted not only for copper on street and highway lights and utilities, but also for the copper piping in plumbing, church air conditioners,  mass transit and more.

These thefts are not only be disruptive and costly to local governments and businesses, but a headache for commuters. In New York City, for example, a thief or thieves made off with 500 feet of a train’s copper piping in 2015, aggravating commuters whose trips were messed up.

And beyond transportation issues, when it comes to abandoned buildings and new construction, the piping thefts can cause explosions and otherwise pose a threat to public safety, including the thieves themselves. Last month, a man was killed after being electrocuted while stealing copper from a light pole in southeast Oklahoma City.

Thieves can get roughly $2 to $2.50 a pound for scrap metal these days, though that price has in the past shot up to $4 a pound. The copper is largely untraceable, and many who are arrested are methamphetamine users, according to news reports.

The thefts are at a pace that correlate with the price of scrap copper as it goes up and down, especially in the last five years of so, feeding a $1 billion black market, according to the U.S. Department of Energy and economists.

Elecsys says it’s product not only safeguards against copper thefts, but also extends lamp life and improves service operations.

Some key features of the Light Guard Pulse:

  • Remote control and scheduling – reduce energy costs/increase lamp life
  • 24/7 protection – detect theft/damage even when lights are not energized
  • Reporting – provides operational insight for targeted maintenance
  • Pedestal-based Installation – saves time and money

Charles Morse, director of business development at Elecsys, says Light Guard Pulse is a unique solution for streetlight monitoring and control that is pedestal-based and provides protection even when lights are unenergized during the day.

“A rugged but simplified hardware design enables cities and states to gain the benefits of monitoring and control with a quicker installation and lower total investment,” he says.

The Elecsys Light Guard Pulse enables streetlight control and fault reporting via an intuitive and secure cloud-based system that gives municipalities and states real-time status information and alarm notifications sent via text or email, the company says.

It can be used with LED, HPS, and mixed lighting circuits, facilitating a phased approach to LED system migration.

In this video, KSHB-TV reports on how officials with Kansas City Scout use the technology to deter copper thieves, helping to keep the street lights on and saving taxpayers money.