HomeProduct DesignDesign TipsDesign Against Steal and Diverted Uses in 10 Tips

Design Against Steal and Diverted Uses in 10 Tips

While designers and marketers may want their new product to be as versatile as possible -increase applications and therefore market-, there are cases where this does not add value to the end-user, thus design against stealing should be considered.

Design Against Steal

Metal Foundry
Metal Foundry

Scrap material resell

  • brass, copper, and all copper alloys, in general, are the most frequently stolen goods, for their high intrinsic value and easy recyclable compared to other metals requiring more high-tech metallurgy
  • aluminum
  • Zinc and MAZAC alloys have much less resell value, but they may be confused with aluminum and be stolen therefore also

How-to: depending on country and exact location, products left outside with an obvious big mass of copper (big length of thick cables, especially if of low voltage) should be designed or installed with antitheft measures in mind whenever possible

Metal Barrel
Metal Barrel

Steal for Its Content

Gas or fuel containers typically have a high resell value and the content is very hardly identified as stolen once transferred.

How-to: design against stealing by making bigger volume, making transport more difficult (but impacts the normal users also), special shapes requiring special tools or connections (but does also impact the normal user)

This should also include unauthorized access to the media transported inside tubes or lines, typically by a “cable hooking” method.

  • water pipelines
  • gas pipeline
  • electricity

How-to: design against stealing by making them hardly accessible (elevated or buried), including upstream so as downstream counters, alarm shells …

Standard Wood Pallet
Standard Wood Pallet

Steal for its Deposit

Some storage tanks or transport pallets can be stolen for their deposit value. The product being highly standardized by nature makes it hard to identify

How-to: add a unique id whenever allowed by the standard, very visible, potentially automatic also (RFID, 2D barcode ….)

Against Other Uses Of the Product

Other usages for barrels
Other usages for barrels

divert from its primary function

The same barrel that may have been stolen to get its content, may also be stolen for other usages

  • for a DIY barbecue
  • to act as an obstacle

Road equipment, 20 or 40-foot containers, and barriers are typical concerned products

How-to: needs value analyses and brainstormings to think about diverted usage and change the shape, the weight, or the color to reduce other applications! Bring into the design team external people, as different as possible, young …

Recyclable Cans
Recyclable Cans

Or do We?

Many of the mentioned measures above to design against steal may be against the ease of recyclability, have a cost or installation impact, or make them less environmentally friendly …

Product design against steal is a tradeoff with many other factors, you may want to refer to the Design Review Checklist on this site.


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