Another thread(about feeders) mademe realize that I have never given power theft any specific consideration in my designs. What about you?
When the other halfof my duplex was the local dope house, I was wide open to someone tapping into the lines as they passed through the attic. Considering the 'cleverness' often shown by meth-heads, it's almost a miracle that no attempts were made- especially when their power was cutoff.
I have certainly seen examples of power theft -be they tapping into the building's outside lighting, or even the service drop with some 'zip'cord- but I've never really given the topic much thought.
How would you design in some resistance to power theft?
I think the best answer of you were really worried would be feeders in RMC if they were exposed or better, put the feeder under concrete. Out of sight, out of mind. Even EMT could be compromised fairly easily. Just crack off an end to end connector and separate the pipe far enough to get a Kupltap in there. A wrench tight RMC connector is a lot harder to displace. The only place I really saw them interested in power diversion was the prisons and they really tried to have everything in the dorm areas behind the block wall.
We had an instance last year of an individual with a camper (slip-in type) parked in a muni lot for a period of time. That lot has power receptacles in pedastals & pole bases for civic events. The guy in the camper was very comfortable & cozy until someone noticed. He left very peacefully.
I only recall two resi theft of service from the POCO. One being a SFD that fell on hard times; he ripped up the meter pan to gain access to the line side & installed jumpers. Burned up one line/load jaws in the pan, then relocated all his cbs to the remaining phase. Snip at the pole cured that.
The other was squatters in a vacant 2 family. That was cured by a snip at the pole, after they wrecked the two meter pans.
There was a thread here many moons ago showing pictures of power theft 1 in particular,showed a rigid riser into a semi-flush panel where it had been cut open to access the PoCo conductors to tap off for their veggie growing operation......
I heard about one where they put a plumbing tee in the riser where it went through the roof to Soffit area and had a loop in the line on a service change. I think it was the cops who eventually found it when they raided the house.
Well, Greg .... that's not quite what I meant by designing for power theft. One must give them credit for planning ahead, though.
There's only so far you can go with materials and planning. Sure, it helps to use pipe and ru n it in inaccessible places - but I recall one Holmes episode where the thieves core drilled the foundation with surgical precision.
I expect that the final solution would be to have multiple meters, at each end of the line in question. One in the electric room and another at the panel.
As already mentioned, the thief does not always tap his own line. The two power thefts I've encountered involved a tenant tapping into the 'house' power. One of those involved a tap on a branch circuit - so the only means of detection would have been to measure the actual use of that circuit over time.
Circuit layout and identifaction also matters. When a circuit hops all over the place - a common result when the circuit is modified over time - it's just too easy for a circuit to wind up serving multiple tenants as walls get moved about in various remodels. While this may not be deliberate theft, one party pays for the other's use.