Hugh Pickens writes "Pervasive thefts of copper wire from under the streets of Fresno, California have prompted the city to seal thousands of its manhole covers with concrete. In Picher, Oklahoma, someone felled the town's utility poles with chain saws, allowing thieves to abscond with 3,000 feet of wire while causing a blackout. The theft of copper cables costs U.S. companies $60 million a year and the FBI says it considers theft of copper wire to be a threat to the nation's baseline ability to function. But now PC World reports that a U.S. company has developed a new cable design that removes almost all the copper from cables in a bid to deter metal thieves. Unlike conventional cables made from solid copper, the GroundSmart Copper Clad Steel Cable consists of a steel core bonded to a copper outer casing, forming an equally effective but far less valuable cable by exploiting the corrosion-resistance of copper with the conductive properties of steel. 'Companies trying to protect their copper infrastructure have been going to extreme measures to deter theft, many of which are neither successful nor cost effective,' says CommScope vice president, Doug Wells. 'Despite efforts like these, thieves continue to steal copper because of its rising value. The result is costly damage to networks and growing service disruptions.' The GroundSmart Copper Clad Steel cable is the latest technical solution to the problem of copper theft, which has included alternatives like cable etching to aid tracing of stolen metal and using chemicals that leave stains detectable under ultra-violet light. However the Copper Clad Steel strikes at the root of the problem by making the cable less susceptible to theft by both increasing the resistance to cutting and drastically decreasing the scrap value."
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