Metal thieves attack wired world

With copper trading at more than $3 a pound, thefts of phone wire have become a daily occurrence in B.C.

Dave Cunningham of Telus and Bill Storie



VICTORIA – With copper trading at more than $3 a pound, thefts of phone wire have become a daily occurrence in B.C., and the B.C. government is tightening rules for scrap metal sales in an effort to stop it.

Police say it’s not just power and phone lines being targeted now. Aluminum ladders, billboards, grave markers, street signs and even manhole covers are being stolen. Construction sites are targeted for plumbing and wiring.

A bill before the B.C. legislature will require metal sellers to register for a “customer code” that must be recorded along with the description of any metal sold. The approach is similar to that taken with B.C. pawn shops, where operators must have transaction records to show police.

Public Safety Minister Shirley Bond said the phone and electric grids are vulnerable, as well as 911 service, and she wants the federal government to consider new penalties for theft from critical infrastructure.

“Good security and surveillance equipment doesn’t always stop the thieves from coming back again and again, especially when your metals are necessarily in remote locations, or distributed along hundreds of kilometres of roads,” Bond said. “Even though many scrupulous recyclers consistently turn away shady characters, somebody keeps buying, and that has to stop.”

Telus executive Dave Cunningham said 2011 has been a particularly bad year, with 325 wire thefts so far. The Fraser Valley is a “hotbed” for organized theft, leaving piles of insulation casings and in some cases downed wires across highways.

Saanich Police Deputy Chief Const. Bob Downie said thieves recently took all the drainage grates from a five-kilometer stretch of Highway 17 between Victoria and the ferry terminal, leaving a dangerous situation for cyclists and drivers.

Bill Storie, bylaw manager for the Township of Langley, said the Union of B.C. Municipalities supported his local bylaw to stem the trade in stolen metal, and the provincial action will help.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Greater Victoria housing market sees positive bump in June

Sales up by 76.8 per cent compared to May

Owners say loss of parking pushes businesses to the brink

New Penny Farthing patio ‘will be like New Orleans, or Las Vegas’

Saanich plugs into $100,000 government grant for 20 new EV chargers

Six chargers to be installed at four municipal parks

Saanich woman says sexual assault was dismissed by police because of her ‘body language’

Patrol officers investigate sexual assault files, make decisions on what goes to Crown counsel

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight in Victoria

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

A list of charge rates or Crown referrals from police oversight bodies across Canada

Here are the rates of charges or referrals to the Crown from their most recent annual reports or online data

Man who rammed gate near Trudeau residence with truck faces multiple charges

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Kelowna RCMP commander calls for more nurses during wellness checks after complaint

Southeast District Commander wants to increase Police and Crisis Team program

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

Playing his tune

Musician Daniel Morel breaks out a tune with his harmonica in front… Continue reading

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Most Read