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Wednesday, July 6, 2011 - 9:34am

New Codes Catch Metal Thieves

Theft of wiring and scrap metal is an expensive problem showing no signs of subsiding for businesses and homeowners. But there’s a new technology helping to make cases easier to prosecute.

Federal officials say nationwide, metal theft is a $1 billion annual loss for utilities. In Georgia it’s in the millions.

Just last year alone Georgia Power lost more than $500,000 to wire theft.

The difficulty prosecuting cases has always been proving exactly where wiring comes from. But Georgia Power’s Carol Boatwright says the utility’s been buying new copper wiring that has unique codes etched on it. It's like a fingerprint.

“The wire does give us the ability to verify that a particular piece of wire came from a particular company at a particular location. So that we can actually establish a link between the theft and the person that has it.”

Boatwright says the wiring’s a bit more expensive to purchase, but has already led to a number of solved cases.