this is a good topic. i can remember back in 2007/2006 when it was common from some guys, mostly of china to rip all mkind of pages, templates. a designer i really honor is derek punsalan ( 5thirtyone.com ) he had the problem that some guy form the east ripped his gridlayout and published it on some forums. after month of discussions on twitter and the forum one of the admins closed this threat and deleted the files from the server. as good as possible. you never can be aware or safe of stealing ripping, whatever you call it im not that experienced coder but i love to design and so i always have a look on the style and code too.
one fav effect i wanna learn and use asap is the paralax effect. some joomle theme, my bookmark says its rockettheme uses this effect – and beside that you can learn and dl a jquery script with the same effect. combining both together and you could create a kickass header graphic, probably.
i never get this why someone spends hours and hours to rip a page when he can make 2 designs in the same time. you talked about tools that can do this automatic? holysmoke that sucks. i would love to learn more about this and read that tutorial from you.