With more than 900,000 crimes reported each year in California, it’s a wonder anyone in the Sunshine State leaves the house. Now, a recent wave of thefts may nudge that number even higher. Environmentalists, take heed: These robbers are targeting you!  

Police departments throughout California have been receiving complaints that solar panels are being stolen right off people’s roofs. We know what you’re thinking: “Burglars covet clean, renewable energy just like the rest of us. At least they’re curbing their carbon emissions, if not cutting back on criminal activity!” But get this: Investigators say some culprits aren’t using the panels for themselves; they’re selling them online to make a quick buck.

From an article in the New York Times:

Investigators do not believe the thieves are acting out of concern for their carbon footprints. Rather, authorities assume that many panels make their way to unwitting homeowners, sometimes via the Internet.


Last November, someone tried to sell solar panels stolen from a toll road in Newport Beach for $100 each on eBay. Detectives from the local police department entered the bidding and won the panels, which were worth nearly $1,500 apiece, according to Sgt. Evan Sailor, a Newport Beach police spokesmam.

For shame. Not only are these hoodlums stealing, they don’t care about the earth, either. Sheesh. Check out this case of irony also mentioned in the Times story:

For Tom McCalmont, president of Regrid Power, a solar installation business near San Jose, the problem hit home in late June. His own headquarters was stuck by thieves, who took more than $30,000 worth of panels from the roof.


The panels were disassembled expertly, he said, leading him to suspect that someone in the solar industry had done it. He urges clients to install video cameras and alarms for their solar arrays, and likes his own revamped security system to Fort Knox.

And believe us, people are pissed. Glenda Hoffman, a resident who had 16 panels stolen in May, says that she now has “a shotgun right next to the bed and a .22 under my pillow.” We pity the fool who goes pilfering her panels again.

Story by Sarah Parsons. This article originally appeared in Plenty in September 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.

Copyright Environ Press 2008

Solar theft
Solar panel stealers pillage the West Coast.