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 therefore market-, there are cases where this does not add value to the end-user, thus design against stealing should be taken into account.

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 countries 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 usage

  • 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 or 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.


Exact matches only
include Online Tools
include Events


Share suggestions, corrections,  examples, experience or ideas that may be integrated in this article


3 Great Benefits of Color Coding in Product Design

Product designers and marketers can use color coding for 3 reasons: to convey a message, to convey a...

Gas Cylinder Manufacture

Made by extruding metal dies, either by cold or hot forming, the gas cylinders initially made of steel,...

PCB Manufacturing in China

Good explanation on PCB manufacturing, from order intake to control and packaging, achieving the impressive KPIs of total delivery...

Quadcopter mini drone design review

When lightweight is not just a cost optimization but the main criteria of the product to function. Can...

Great 10 Logo Design Tips You Will Use

A great video from Aaron Draplin & LinkedIn Learning about logo design, and the necessary ideas and concepts...


This site is proudly hosted by

We recommend them for the features and their extremely reactive support
Check by yourself - FREE