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 Post subject: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:31 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:13 am
Posts: 47
We are being attacked by metal thieves again. Absolutely no respect for heritage, all they see are juicy lumps of copper or brass and take 'em, usually doing a lot of co-lateral damage to locks, fences and exhibits that get in their way.

Any new ideas how to stop it happening? We are all (mostly) cash strapped volunteer organizations and can't afford 24/7 security patrols or effective hi-def surveillance video solutions and the like.


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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:01 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 4138
Location: Maine
Removal of items made of brass, bronze, copper, and precious metal, is about all one can do. Even locomotives indoors and under guard have been victims of theft. It hurts our mission, it adds unnecessary work, it detracts from the historical integrity of the display. What else can you do? I am an advocate of removing cab fixtures and replacing them with wooden mock-ups, while locking the genuine items in a vault. Unless someone is going to be present 24/7, you either close to exhibit of make certain the public knows why it has to be this way. They steal for two reasons; possession or profit.

Some years ago, Paul McCartney's original Hofner bass was stole from a vehicle. It has never turned up, even though it is prominently marked as his. Who can display it? Who can take pride in possessing it? Then there are the greedy thieves who steal for profit. In New Brunswick, a couple of copper thieves went after the copper in a substation. That attempt was self-limiting.

Sadly, whatever you own is going to invite some lesser person who desires to take it.

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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:12 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:09 pm
Posts: 402
Get some trail cameras. Usually under 100$ a piece, and record to an SD card when motion activated.

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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:43 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 528
Location: New Franklin, OH
We currently use trail cameras and move them around constantly. They are effective. We're looking at adding an HD surveillance system, too. They're getting relatively inexpensive. We haven't had any problems with theft, but we get our fair share of trespassers and hunters though the property is posted.

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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:03 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 450
kew wrote:
We are being attacked by metal thieves again. Absolutely no respect for heritage, all they see are juicy lumps of copper or brass and take 'em, usually doing a lot of co-lateral damage to locks, fences and exhibits that get in their way.

Any new ideas how to stop it happening? We are all (mostly) cash strapped volunteer organizations and can't afford 24/7 security patrols or effective hi-def surveillance video solutions and the like.


Who is we? Was there a recent incident?

Surveillance systems are not particularly expensive these days...


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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:12 am 

Joined: Thu May 06, 2010 10:30 pm
Posts: 719
Location: Bucks County, PA
jayrod wrote:
We currently use trail cameras and move them around constantly. They are effective. We're looking at adding an HD surveillance system, too. They're getting relatively inexpensive. We haven't had any problems with theft, but we get our fair share of trespassers and hunters though the property is posted.


A quick Amazon search for trail cameras brings up many, many cameras within the $40-$60 range, night vision, HD, motion capture, and all that jazz.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=trail+camera ... _sb_noss_1

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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:33 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:08 pm
Posts: 85
Location: Alberta, Canada
I second the points already made here, and don't forget to put up plenty of signs advertising the existence of cameras (even if you don't have any). I would also recommend putting up some fake cameras (quite a bit cheaper than real ones) in obvious, easily visible spots, and make sure to put at least one real camera up in a place to catch license plates.

Some motion-activated security cameras can be set up to send an alert and photo to your phone when activated. Several of my friends have these at home and they are not out-of-this-world expensive. Unfortunately they do tend to send out plenty of false alarms, being activated by wind, animals, legit folks, etc.

It also helps to make the place look like it is busy all the time, leave a few lights on overnight and have some motion-activated ones too. In winter (guess this won't work in Australia) make lots of tire tracks and footprints in the snow.

Keep as much stuff as possible hidden and locked up, the thieves aren't going to be on your property forever and if they can't find it they can't take it. Far too many groups leave valuable materials out in the open. Copper thieves of course are going to head for the electrical equipment on locomotives and unfortunately the engine room doors don't lock on hood units, but it is surprising hard to break into a ALCO or EMD cab unit if all the doors have been locked and barred from the inside.

For things like bells, whistles/horns and numberplates on static displays removal or replacement with fake replicas is a good idea and most people cannot tell the difference. On both of our steam locomotives the original brass numberplates have been replaced with painted aluminum replicas, the originals are kept locked up in a safe, secret place.

My organization has not had much trouble with thieves (so far, hope this doesn't jinx it), in large part because we are located in a rural area where the buildings and most of our collection is not readily visible from public roads. Changing locations is of course not an option for the vast majority of us, but if the opportunity ever comes take that into consideration when selecting the new location.

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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:28 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:12 pm
Posts: 123
Location: Bremerton, WA
Here is a link to Fry's Electronics. As cheap as high quality security camera systems are, there really is no excuse to not have them.

https://www.frys.com/search?search_type ... Name=false

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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:56 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:43 am
Posts: 613
Cameras, activity, lights. That is all you can do short of having a live-in caretaker or guard. Check everything on the property regularly, the thieves sometimes spread this out over days or weeks, might take a few days to break in and then they only haul what they can carry, but if the breech and theft isn't caught quickly, they will keep coming back till they do get caught. In other words, fences, locks, chains, barriers should all basically be rated in 'minutes' of security, since they can all be defeated. They don't stop theft, they only buy you time.


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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:58 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:52 pm
Posts: 137
Location: Pittsburgh
It helps to have cultivated relationships with local government and their police department. The township police routinely drive through our property at random times. We also have security cameras and plan to add more soon.

/s/ Larry
Lawrence G. Lovejoy, P.E.


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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:17 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 514
"Beware of Dog" signs especially if you have members with large dogs who can leave tracks and "donations" near the signs.

-Hudson


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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:19 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9254
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
One museum with which I worked for a spell made room for a downright eccentric model railroader who worked on his layout in a very visible place with windows and spotlights at any and every imaginable hour of the day and night. He reported any number of "curiosity seekers" and one attempted thief that did get arrested. He he got too feeble to keep showing up, in went the security systems.

This technique certainly doesn't work for every setting, but I DO strongly recommend letting certain well-vetted individuals have free rein to patrol the place, occupy the shop/etc., even camp out if warranted.


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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:22 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:57 pm
Posts: 77
Have you come across "Smartwater"? This is a chemical marker, unique to each user, which can be read under ultra violet light but is otherwise invisible. It sticks to the metal, to anyone who handles it and to anything in which the metal is carried. The company also supplies trademarked warning stickers to discourage would be thieves.


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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:51 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 514
It needs to be a layered system, the object is to make it not worth the effort or the risk to enter the property and steal your property.

Signs, then a fence, then lights, then cameras, then barbed wire on the fence, etc.

It's not just one thing, it's layers of protection. Locks are for honest people.

Make the intruder uncomfortable. Make the intruder go else where for easier pickings.

-Hudson


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 Post subject: Re: Metal thieves and railway museums
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:17 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 838
Larry Lovejoy wrote:
It helps to have cultivated relationships with local government and their police department. The township police routinely drive through our property at random times. We also have security cameras and plan to add more soon.

/s/ Larry
Lawrence G. Lovejoy, P.E.

In some jurisdictions you can ask the local police to come into your private area regularly, sometimes in exchange for a fee. When I lived in Orlando FL the Orange County sheriff's police would regularly come into apartment complexes in exchange for a small fee, it is cheaper than paying an around-the-clock private guard service, and more credible. Having real cops there from time to time made a big difference in the level of criminality, I can tell you from personal experience.


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