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Theft Prevention

Theft - haiti secure batteries2

The PEPFAR provided inverter at Immaculee Conception Hospital in Haiti was not functioning because the battery cables had been stolen. Smaller mesh on the battery cage would deter future theft. (Photo: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

High value technology in developing countries is an automatic target for theft. Several techniques have proven effective in mitigating the likelihood of system theft including full-time guards, anti-theft mounting systems and cages, and proper system maintenance.

 

Strategies for reducing theft of equipment, especially solar panels include:

  • Proper installation of a solar system is one effective strategy to reduce theft.
  • Theft-proof hardware such as bolts that require special wrenches can help prevent theft of solar panels.
  • Solar panels, without special secure mounts, are frequently stolen. Tamper free mounting systems can complicate removal of the system.
  • Positioning of the solar panel - pole mounting and roof top installation - could also serve as a tamper/theft prevention measure.
  • Timely maintenance of solar systems is also an important deterrent to theft.
  • Community involvement is crucial for theft prevention.
  • Hiring a guard to protect the equipment has been an effective technique utilized in USAID-supported solar hospital electrification programs in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Training solar panel operators and maintenance staff on theft prevention measures and strategies is also essential.

 

Theft Prevention in Haiti

Solar systems have historically been susceptible to pilfering and theft has been cited as a reason for failure of several past solar installations in Haiti. Proper installation of a solar system is one effective strategy to reduce theft. Tamper free mounting systems are often used which complicate removal of the system. Solengy, a solar company in Haiti, has designed a PV array mounting bracket which prevents the removal of individual panels, greatly complicating theft.

The timely maintenance of solar systems is also an important deterrent to theft. Local stakeholders who benefit from the system's operation will be much more likely to protect the assets against removal. Perhaps the most effective strategy for reducing theft is to establish a sense of local ownership. Experience has demonstrated that if a local stakeholder feels personally responsible for the operation of the system - either because of a financial incentive or because of its perceived value to the community - the likelihood of theft decreases significantly. Many of the facility managers who had successful solar installations in Haiti claimed that theft was not an issue because everyone in the community realized the benefit of a functioning health facility and no one in the community would dare jeopardize the facility's operation by stealing the solar panel.

Several stakeholders indicated that the location of the facility was also a critical factor in determining the likelihood of the solar panels to be stolen. It was reported that systems installed in larger cities, such as Les Cayes, Port au Prince, and Cap Haitien had experienced significant challenges with theft, while systems in smaller communities had not.

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