Solar panels are increasing in popularity with those who consider themselves to be environmentally friendly. These panels allow them to create renewable energy from the sun. However, thieves have also seen their value, at the expense of the owner.
— DECC (@DECCgovuk) October 8, 2013
Why Might Thieves Want Solar Panels?
You have become a victim of solar theft when you become aware one day that the solar panels you depend on for an energy source are suddenly gone. Police departments are reporting that solar theft is growing increasingly more and more common. Thieves will even go to the trouble of climbing onto a roof and removing the panels by hand, if necessary. The stolen panels can then be sold, most often online, to the highest bidder. The thief can consider any money made from the sale a profit because they had no money invested in the panels to begin with.
However, more than just homeowners are affected by this supposedly victimless crime. Businesses who specialize in environmentally friendly energy solutions are also reporting an increase in thefts against them. For example, there is a business in San Jose, California who has reported that they had a loss of $25,000 worth of merchandise in one night.
What Can You Do To Improve the Security of Your Solar Panels?
Because of the growing number of stolen panels being reported every day, law enforcement agencies and police departments now report that they have literally hundreds of open burglary cases at a time. Officials have now enlisted the aid of the companies who manufacture the panels to try to simplify the process of located the stolen ones. This is very difficult because when the panels are sold online by the thieves, they are very difficult to track.
Because of this, there are some basic things that the public can do if they wish to provide good security around their solar panels:
1. Install a surveillance system on your roof. Surveillance systems have cameras that record movement in the area they are focused on. While they are not useful for stopping a crime in progress, they are useful after the fact for identifying the criminal, which police departments will tell you is the most difficult part of any burglary case. If you do not want to install a surveillance camera, then you should, at the very least, install some sort of alarm system on your panels. An alarm system will ensure that you, your neighbors, and the thief himself, is alerted to the crime when it is occurring. Alarm systems are very handy in deterring future thefts as well.
2. Make it difficult to unscrew your panels. Europeans are now favoring a method that makes the installation process very difficult to reverse. This fact deters criminals. Many will just walk away without attempting to remove the panels while others will grow tired and give up after making a feeble attempt to remove them. If you also install a security system, you might even catch the thief in the process of stealing your panels.
Insurance policies for homeowner’s will normally cover solar theft, making replacement of stolen panels affordable for the homeowner. However, insurance companies may become resistant to paying these claims if the number of claims filed is too high or too frequent. Because of this, it is advised that any solar array have a security system attached to it.