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A hidden ignition and fuel pump cutoff would prevent the truck from being stolen unless they towed it, but that's only part of the problem.
Can they afford to keep someone with the truck? Do they take matters into their own hands and make the thieves go away for good? I bet if a few of them thieves were found beaten to death, or with their hands cutoff it would send a little fear out there! They found a gravy train and unless something drastic changes they will get bolder.
That sucks. After reading that article I feel the company should pursue a civil suit against the people caught stealing the van. Ask the court for $10 000 plus court cost each. Show actual damages plus ask for punitive damages.
A big hunk of the blame has to rest on the owners of scrap yards that buy obviously unused product. Also, any PHC/Elec contractors who don't call and give the police license plate numbers when/if they are approached by a non-regular supplier/individual offering way below market prices on copper share in the blame. Just like any business, theft will cease to exist if the market dries up.
~~Don't worry about old age; it doesn't last that long.