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Metal theft goes from the ridiculous to the sublime.

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Anyone who isn’t living in a cave has heard about the steady increase of the theft of metals since commodity prices started going up in the last couple of years. Absolutely nothing is sacred anymore – from fence posts and street signs, to manhole covers and hydro cables, to children’s playground equipment and memorial markers – it’s waaay out of control. And I have to admit, like probably everyone else, I laugh out loud and blurt out a “Serves you right!” every time I hear about some idiot with a double-digit IQ who zaps himself into the afterlife while attempting to finance his next pipe-load of crack by jacking a (previously unknown) live wire. I mean, c’mon man!

Many fruitless attempts have been made to curb this, the latest scourge in the ever broadening list of things that make me sick. But this latest one really takes the cake…

Recently the city of Johannesburg in South Africa installed some brand new high tech traffic lights. Mostly composed of flexible plastic (you know, to reduce injury to the rest of double-digit crowd who keep managing to mow them down), these solar powered babies are the new industry standard. No sooner were they installed then the communication equipment of more than 400 of them disappeared. Seems the new standard in light standards (forgive the pun) are equipped with SIM cards – yup, the same SIM cards we use in our cell phones. They’re designed to transmit real-time data to the JRA (Johannesburg Road Agency). Thieves nicked ‘em the second they went in (can you say “inside job?”) and stuck the JRA with thousands in free unlimited phone calls (well, free to the perps anyway). I’m going to bet those SIM cards didn’t come with free local and long distance calling after 6:00 pm and weekends.

All the SIM cards were cancelled but not before the damage was done and the fine folks who live in Johannesburg ended up paying more than double what they thought it would cost for a well-deserved upgrade to their traffic control systems.

Bad enough that you can fall into an open manhole while simutaneously texting and crossing the street for your next double-tall, no fat, half caf, french vanilla flavoured latte from Starbuck’s. Now your risk of getting hit by a car just went up too thanks to the latest entry into the category of “Are you freakin’ kidding me?!” Not that texting while walking is any safer (or brighter) than texting while driving but call these idiots pond scum and pond scum will say “Hey…!”.

Now before I get off on a rant here (full credit to Dennis Miller), let me just say that the next time I hear about some doofus frying himself like a piece of overdone bacon with a zillion volts of electricity while attempting to steal a live wire, all I am going to say is…

“Pass the marshmallows”.