The Canadian city of Calgary has spread out far and wide, and boasts an impressive network of modern highways. Bus companies, construction companies, couriers, and other businesses rely on electronic message boards to plan their journeys. Unfortunately, Battery thieves have been plundering their power supplies, increasing the impact of gridlocks and traffic delays.
Battery Thieves Rip Off 500 Signs a Year
Ravi Seera, the city’s traffic manager says over 500 lead-acid batteries disappeared from variable message boards last year. “It’s become a real problem for the city but it’s not just us – it’s impacting a lot of businesses,” he explains.
The variable message boards rely on solar power during daytime. At night they run on lead-acid battery banks charged in the course of the previous day. The authorities position the information boards in high-visibility areas on roadsides. Unfortunately this means heartless battery thieves have easy access too. This is not good news for strangers navigating their way after dark.
Calgary Traffic Authority On the Comeback
The city traffic authority first tried a defensive approach using chains, but the thieves cut through these with bolt cutters. Next, they tried switching from glass mat batteries to standard flooded ones to reduce losses.
They even reduced the number of batteries in the signs to make the pickings leaner, but it made no difference. They then went on the offensive with more police patrols while developing a secure, padlocked box that is virtually plunder proof. The project is not cheap. Retrofitting the first 50 variable signs will cost $70,000.
The city of Edmonton 187 miles to the north has been experiencing similar problems and applying a related solution. A few weeks ago, police caught two battery thieves red-handed there. For now at least the problem has dried up in Edmonton.
Preview Image: On Entering Calgary