At a recent Toolfair and Elex show, PHPI’s sister title, Professional Electrician, spoke to the man making headlines taking a stand against tool theft with his electrified contraption.
Ray Taylor is a 61-year-old electrician from Wolverhampton and through the years he has spent working in the industry, he has been the victim of over £5,000 worth of tool theft. It is hard to maintain a passion and motivation for your work when such brazen acts are often left unpunished – a passion that for many in the industry has been life-long.
This is no different for Ray, as he recounts his first steps towards his electrical career: “Since I was 10, I used to fix my neighbour’s or my family friends’ hoovers, stuff like that. I was always playing with wires, playing about with my mum’s electrics. I’ve always been fascinated by it.” It is this same child-like sense of adventure that led Ray to construct an alarm for his van.
Ray’s contraption consists of a 1,000V zapper from a fly swatter, which is fitted to a metal plate in the rear door handle of his van, meaning the shock is only isolated to the handle. The siren, sound bombs, zapper and a blue strobe light are on the same circuit which is fitted to a switch in the cabin. This switch is connected to the rear door key so that, when the van is locked and someone tries to pull at the handle, it will then activate. A selection of sensors fitted to all the van’s doors will also trigger the circuit.
There were two separate incidents that led Ray to the point where he felt he had to fight back against tool theft. “I had a car with tools worth around £2,000. I woke up one day and both the tools and my car had gone – they’ve never been seen since,” he says. “Then, in January of this year, I had almost £3,000 worth of tools taken. They robbed me of my livelihood.”
Crucially, there’s nothing illegal about Ray’s invention. Police have confirmed that, as long as Ray continues to display a yellow warning sign under the handle that states ‘Danger Live Terminals’, he’s doing nothing wrong. The ‘shock’ that greets any potential thieves isn’t even the major deterrent as, according to Ray, the flashing blue light is what draws attention. He says: “Just think about it: it’s three o’clock in the morning and a flashing blue light is going off. I’ve got footage of every attempt, and they all ran. There have been three attempts since I installed the system, and every single one of them has run away.”
But what is the main goal of all of this? Ray just hopes to inspire people to alarm their vans properly, thereby protecting their livelihoods. He pleads: “Just arm your vans. There are alarms out there that cost hundreds of pounds too, but they can easily trip by accident. If you hear my alarm go off, there is somebody attempting to get into my van, 100%. It’s stable and I’ve covered everything off that I possibly can.”
Watch the e5 Group’s interview with Ray below, and keep scrolling to find out how the PHPI guinea pig reacted to the shock!
Here’s former PHPI editor James Moore testing the device…