Solar panels are new hot property for thieves
Solar panels are now being targeted by thieves in California - many are calling it the crime of the future.
Sunny California has a lot of homes with solar panels, and they are expensive - therefore are a new commodity for theives.
In May Hoffman lost 16 solar panels from her roof in three separate burglaries, one while she slept below. Happily for Hoffman her insurers have agreed to pay the $95,000 (£48,000) cost of replacing the panels. But as energy prices soar, and solar power takes off - at least in California - so opportunistic thieves have turned to the lucrative, and complicated, business of dismantling solar panels.
"I wouldn't say it's pervasive, but it's going on," California Solar Energy Industries Association executive director Sue Kateley told the Valley Times.
California is the leader for solar installations, with 33,000 across the state. Unsurprisingly, it is also the market leader for thefts of solar installations, although figures are hard to come by.
"The solar panel thing is pretty new," said Contra Costa county sheriff's office spokesman Jimmy Lee. "We're seeing an increasing number of cases."
One night in late August, 26 solar panels with a value of $20,000 were stolen from California's first certified organic farm, Star Route Farms in Bolinas, 20 miles up the coast from San Francisco.
"It's probably easier to steal a $20,000 car," Rob Erlichman, president of Sunlight Electric, which sold the panels to the farm in 2006, told the Point Reyes Light. "To steal that many panels you need a truck and you need guys."
Solar panels need to come with fastenings so that they cannot be lifted so easily.
However, if the theives want them bad enough, they will be able to get their hands on them.
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