Copper Theft Menace

I’ve been following copper theft for quite sometime. As I reported before, I have compelling reasons for doing so, having been victimized in personal and professional spheres. There are reasons why copper theft occurs in cycles around the world. One of those reasons is the demand; the emerged economies of China and India have an insatiable appetite for raw materials for their burgeoning industrial productions. The other is supply, limited supply drives up prices and increases motivation for theft of copper bearing assets wherever they could be had. The illegal copper trade is one exemplary of how the underbelly of the global economy operates. The global commodity trends are a driving force in local criminal trends. Unless you keep a close watch of the tendencies, it becomes a silent menace that quickly balloons to the tune of millions in asset losses.

According to this news report Spain is in the throws of a copper theft epidemic. The rash of copper motivated thefts does not only leave electric utilities, railways and telecommunications companies on a scramble to stem hundreds of thousands of Euros in losses, but has created public safety hazards as towns are left without power or telephone service, and unlit streetlights along dozens of kilometers (miles) of streets and roadways. I personally have experience these trends unfold in different regions (Latin America, North America and beyond), so the Spanish authority’s strategy as described by the article strikes me as effective; going after the dealers and wheelers. But the hierarchy goes much further, since corruption and collusion play a large role in this illicit trade. Global criminals are also wise to the ways of globalization, leveraging cheap freight cost and trade liberalization to move stolen goods unimpeded.  My recommendation is that more cooperation is needed across international law enforcement agencies to first understand the trends and then attack the other end of this global illicit trade, the industrial buyers. Local solutions would only go so far, you need multipliers to balance out the laws of global supply and demand.

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Clever Criminal Tactics, Matched By Investigator’s Wit

The explosion of communication technology has sparked many clever criminal tactics in recent times. From common criminal elements to syndicated criminal organizations have been early adaptors of cutting edge technology to leverage their illicit activities by directly exploiting the technology for gains or using it as a tool to further other criminal schemes—mobile phones comes immediately to mind.  Truth-be-told criminals have shown a propensity to adapt to technological advances faster than law enforcement organizations. The evolution of mobile networks from analog to digital has given way a number of platforms (SMS, e-mail, etc.) loosely connected and not-so-well guarded global data networks, which have been manipulated for illicit activities.

Public and private Investigators around the world have been forced to come-up to speed; often learning on the fly and adapting to these criminal tactics. One popular way many investigators have been able to trace communication leading to illicit or criminal activities is through the cell phone triangulation. Investigations that relay on a person’s exact location at the moment a criminal act is committed require access to cell towers, which must be obtained from mobile phone service providers—many jurisdictions require a court order to avoid running a fowl of due process laws.  Criminals are also aware that their activities can be traced in this way, so they actively try to thwart these efforts by using disposal SIM cards and other schemes.  Most recently criminals have also try to create alibis by false flagging SMS messages.  Police agencies are aware of these tactics and have made this information standard knowledge to look for during crime scenes investigation. How long before other criminal elements attempt to cover their tracks through this clever stratagem….

Text Messages on Rise as Alibis:

Lie to Me – If You Can!!!

Has anybody told you a bold face lie so convincing it could almost refute hard evidence?  As any investigator would tell you deciphering truth from fiction is no easy feat. The investigator must not only gather clues and evidence on a mark/subject, but he/she has to also be able to extract the truth from the fraud. Luckily the folks of Howstuffworks have put together a nifty set of documents that explains how verbal and nonverbal signs of lying combine to give you a roadmap to prying the truth out.    

Deception Detection – How Lying Works:

What You Need to Know (WYNK)

Over one trillion text messages were sent and received in the U.S. alone last year, according to CTIA-The Wireless Association.

Have ever analyzed a stack of emails during an inquiry or investigation just to be dumbfounded with abbreviations such as BIC.  Does it stand for Best In Class or Boss Is Coming.  As text-messaging shorthand becomes ubiquitous, investigators everywhere need to be tech-savvy about decoding the hidden messages.  To be misinformed about the latest in text-speak could potentially mislead you into taking important information out of context. 

According to the WSJ’s Stephanie Raposo “confusion over the meaning of abbreviations for the un-trained has given rise to a number of resources that provide English translations for terms like WRUD (“What are you doing?”) and TTYL (“Talk to you later”)—among them independent Web sites like and and corporate ones like LG Mobile Phones’”

It’s my understanding that shorthand texting is here to stay so let’s embrace its provenance and leverage the resources available to make our job as investigators a bit easier.

Security Officers went way too far

In one of China’s industrial giants, private security organization applies Gestapo tactics in furtherance of their client’s policy.  Incidents like this discredit an organization’s reputation and create unnecessary subterfuge.  The matter would undoubtedly create considerable backlash for Foxconn’s clients.  It also highlights an important oversight regarding policy statements.  It’s ok to have global policy statements just as long as we provide clear guidelines on how they should be executed.  This is especially important if the operation is located in a country with sketchy human rights past.  One thing is clear for me, ambiguous protection policy without the human rights counterweight is just throwing out the baby with the bath water.

IPhone Maker in China Is Under Fire After a Suicide

By DAVID BARBOZA   Published: July 27, 2009

A 25-year-old worker in China jumped from an apartment building after being accused of stealing an iPhone prototype.


Organized Crime and Counterfeiting

Film Piracy, Organized Crime, and Terrorism

Publisher: RAND Corporation | ISBN: 0833045652 | edition 2008 | PDF | 182 pages | 2,75 mb
This report presents the findings of research into the involvement of organized crime and terrorist groups in counterfeiting products ranging from watches to automobile parts, from pharmaceuticals to computer software. It presents detailed case studies from around the globe in one area of counterfeiting, film piracy, to illustrate the broader problem of criminal groups finding a new and not-much-discussed way of funding their activities.