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Subject: Vandals stealing landscape light fixtures
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Author Messages
KathyE5
(Missouri)

Posts:24


01/06/2018 8:21 AM  
Hi, all!

We are a small development of about 36 homes. It is quite upscale except for five homes which aren't quite on a par with the others although because of the locale they tend to sell for quite a bit of money and, thus, we have always had wonderful neighbors. And by 'wonderful' I mean that we have very little trouble, especially vandalism.

Well, that just changed with the arrival of a new family in our HOA. The mother seems very nice and, in truth, I'm not even sure it is her kids causing the problem; just that the problems began when she and her family moved in.

Most vexing of all -- to the board -- is the stealing of our outdoor light fixtures. I mean, they aren't just stealing the bulbs; they are cutting the electric wires off at the ground and stealing the whole darned fixture, light and all. My husband, who worked for an electrical utility and knows what he's doing, is the one who is continually buying and reinstalling these fixtures and it is becoming annoying. We have security cameras close to some of the fixtures but none where others are located, plus it would be difficult to install any nearby these other fixtures.

I've been thinking of buying a game camera and setting it out by the one fixture that is most often targeted. I'm only worried that it will be too far away to really identify the perps.

Another idea is, perhaps, installing some type of barrier around the light fixture but try as I might to find such a thing, I cannot do so.

Does anyone else have an idea? We've already asked the police and highway patrol to amp up their presences on our streets but that doesn't seem to be working at all. I really think the culprits are these woman's kids but I cannot prove it. I think that because we had no trouble until they moved in and now, all the time. I have already spoken to her about another matter, which has since stopped occurring, and she denied her kids were involved but it stopped so there you have it. These kids aren't young -- 18 and 19 -- and they have vehicles so in my mind why would they be stooping to stealing landscape lighting? Sounds more like what a younger kid would be doing, but what do I know? In short, I am flummoxed and am seeking advice. ANY advice will do.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:6904


01/06/2018 8:40 AM  
Sounds like your false sense of security has been shattered. If your that concerned, I would look into what it takes to form a community watch. Talk to the police. They usually have a program and will send someone to talk to your group. Of course keep this SEPARATE from your HOA. A community watch means anyone can be a member (renter, house sitters, care takers etc...) In our area they will put up a sign saying you do have a community watch in place.

We had a board member who had a son who also did commit crimes. Seen him do it first hand. Unfortunately, the mother had a heart issue that had her out of town for a few months. So when she was gone that kid came out to "play". Due to the neighbors keeping an eye out, we were able to report him to the police. He had tried to attack someone who had stopped him from committing a crime.

I think once that kid found out there were many eyes around him and ones willing to tell his mother, he got the hint. It was terrible for his mother no doubt to deal with him. However, it's also something that needs to be reported to the police. We actually had another renter who's son did the same thing years before. He ended up going to boot-camp for his crimes. Although when he came back he went back to his criminal ways. Eventually the owner evicted the tenant.

So if it's a renter situation, the owner of the property should be informed of the suspected activity. They may be restricted from taking certain actions due to laws. However, the owner will be the one in the position to evict the person.

Just keep calling the police. It's their job. Be supportive of the mother as well. She may be dealing with this the best she can but can't control them at 18.

Former HOA President
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:15081


01/06/2018 8:47 AM  
Cameras can certainly help. You would need more then one.
They also need to be well secured so they aren't stolen.

Make sure you have serial numbers of the lights.
Also you might try painting them an odd color to help identify them (pink might work).
KathyE5
(Missouri)

Posts:24


01/06/2018 8:57 AM  
We have no renters, so that is good.

The light fixture serial numbers, I fear, wouldn't help much. They aren't valuable enough to bring any money to anyone.

Our neighbors are so very good. I feel certain that if anyone had seen anything that they would report it. I do believe this is going on in the wee hours of the morning. Not far away from this light fixture was a beer bottle tossed back in the woods. So, I'm now thinking it might have been older kids doing this.

I have one game camera which I will be relocating nearby when my husband gets this new fixture installed. He's sick right now so won't get it done for a few days yet.

In the meantime, I will send out an email and ask people if they want to keep replacing this light. (I know they will; it is at the entrance to the development and in a very dark area which is difficult to see if you are unfamiliar with the area. Heck, I've lived here 20 years and when the light is off, I have trouble knowing exactly where the road comes into the main road).

I thought of another possible 'fix:' maybe I could have the electric utility install a dusk-to-dawn light nearby. One with the elaborate iron scroll work that would look nice. Of course, then these vandals might just shoot out the light.

Thanks for your help.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:15081


01/06/2018 11:50 AM  
Posted By KathyE5 on 01/06/2018 8:57 AM


The light fixture serial numbers, I fear, wouldn't help much. They aren't valuable enough to bring any money to anyone.




The serial numbers are needed to prove that the fixtures are the Associations (if the lights are found with the thiefs). It just makes things easier. You can also stencil ownership onto them.


GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:1761


01/06/2018 2:23 PM  
Posted By KathyE5 on 01/06/2018 8:57 AM
The light fixture serial numbers, I fear, wouldn't help much. They aren't valuable enough to bring any money to anyone.

My HOA is looking for replacement street lights. The current ones are almost 30 years old and they're not manufactured anymore. We replace maybe one a year and are looking for inexpensive replacements. New ones can run up to several thousand dollars each. If some kid in a truck came by one day and offered to sell us a dozen out of the back of his truck at $500 apiece we'd probably buy them. In short, don't assume they're worthless.

As to your problem, cameras are the answer. Trail cameras - good ones - are expensive and subject to theft. I'd go with el-cheapo "action cameras" that can be had for under $100 online. They're like inexpensive dash cams. Get several and place them strategically. Lighting at night might be your biggest problem. Good trail cameras have infrared illumination built in but even the most expensive ones only throw the light 100 feet or so. Consider camouflage inside of an orange traffic cone maybe.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:332


01/07/2018 8:19 AM  
Purchase a product called Tile and place it in the fixture, when the thief steals it they can be tracked down via the GPS tag inside the Tile.
KathyE5
(Missouri)

Posts:24


01/07/2018 9:50 AM  
My husband replaces the fixtures. The ones that have been targeted cost $10 apiece so not expensive at all. It is the aggravation of it all since they rip the fixture off the base, thereby destroying the base and pulling apart the electrical wires which, now live, are sticking out of the earth. Not a good situation.

My husband also informed me that those $10 fixtures, which are really handsome fixtures (believe it or not)can no longer be found in our area. That may be why the thieves are targeting them.

I have also done some more thinking about this and one of our neighbors is in the midst of an extensive rehabbing job. There is a 4WD dually pickup -- quite loud and very dirty -- loaded with construction workers which comes in here every day. I wonder if one of those guys might have a use for our fixtures and be stealing them?

In any event, my husband is replacing our nice fixtures with a plain old socket and globe that is not only cheap, it looks cheap. Still, it gets the job done.

I may also look into the decorative dusk-to-dawn lighting.

I will find out about the TILE. That is good information to have. THANK YOU so much for telling me about it.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:77


01/07/2018 1:24 PM  
Inexpensive light fixtures are unlikely to have serial numbers. I don't think even expensive light fixtures normally have serial numbers. Tile may work but it works on bluetooth with your smart phone. It has a relatively short range but if it is out of range of your phone, another Tile user gets a signal if they are close. The idea is if you leave an item somewhere, another Tile user will find it and return it to you.

If someone keeps stealing the same inexpensive light fixtures I would guess it is someone who does not want the lights at that location or they don't like the lights for another reason. It's just so unusual I would not be surprised if the motive is not financial gain but to get rid of the lights.

I would not approach the mother and suggest that her kids are criminals based on the fact that the crimes started after she moved in. That is very likely just a coincidence. The fact that they live in a cheaper house also does not make them more likely to be a thief.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:6904


01/07/2018 3:21 PM  
You can always get an engraver and engrave identification into it. Plus take picture to record they do belong to you. Which is a good thing to do anyways on other objects like TV's and other expensive items. Makes it easier for theft claims or reclaims. Find it helpful for any insurance claim to make an identifier marks.

It's most likely the copper wiring they are after inside the fixture. Avoid anything that may give the appearance of copper. Also are we sure it's humans causing the missing fixtures? I kept losing some of my outdoor lights or especially the end of my water hoses sprayers. Found any plastic type item with chew marks on them. This was within a day of buying them! It turns out that have I have chipmunks! Those little rascals have wreaked havoc on my outdoor items.

Former HOA President
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:4632


01/07/2018 4:21 PM  
Ben raises a good point. We have two bollard fixtures on the sidewalk exterior of our urban high rise. They're in a raised planter about 5 feet above the sidewalk. Their lights are constantly not working. Our building engineer insists the owner of the TH that has bedroom windows above these lights disables them,

This is at a dark urban corner of two streets and they really are needed. Our engineer says he's going to put something on the fixtures so no one can get in the except himself. We'll see. So....if you get cheap ones and they still disappear, maybe it's an annoyed neighbor!
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:15081


01/07/2018 7:13 PM  
Posted By LetA on 01/07/2018 8:19 AM
Purchase a product called Tile and place it in the fixture, when the thief steals it they can be tracked down via the GPS tag inside the Tile.




Although it works off of bluetooth and wireless, the demo I saw looks pretty good and a cost of under $50 would be worth it to track down a thief.
CjC
(Maryland)

Posts:59


01/08/2018 7:03 AM  
Our HOA installed game cameras because our light fixtures were also being tampered with. I will tell you that the footage from the game camera is not detailed enough. We could not read license plates and when the image appeared, it isn't clear enough to see for sure who it was. But just having the camera was enough to deter any repeat attacks. So in the long run, it may work and in the short run, you might have another incident. If you have an online presence, publish that you have now bought cameras to protect the HOA investment and tell parents to tell their kids. That may be enough to ward off future attacks.
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