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.

Just Posted

Chilliwack Visual Artists Association members upscale found items into art

CVAA group show ‘Upscale Art’ is at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre Nov. 20 to Dec. 28

B.C. man who murdered Belgian tourist near Boston Bar gets life in prison, no parole until 2042

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

Locally owned shops open doors for Chilliwack Christmas Craft Crawl

The 17th annual self-guided event takes place Nov. 21 to 24 at six locations throughout Chilliwack

LETTER: Rainbow crosswalk campaign shows ‘contempt’

‘A very sad chapter in the history of Chilliwack,’ says letter writer

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Nov. 18 to 24

Three people deported after Surrey brawl caught on camera: RCMP

Police say they have been ‘actively engaged’ in the issue of youth fights in Newton since March

B.C. to advocate for frustrated, confused, unhappy cellphone users, says premier

Maple Ridge New Democrat Bob D’Eith to advocate for more affordable and transparent cellphone options

Workers union calls strike vote in SkyTrain labour dispute

Mediated talks are scheduled to begin Nov. 28

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchers

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

Bids down, costs up on Highway 1, B.C. independent contractors say

Rally protests NDP government’s union-only public construction

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

‘Police incident’ leads Squamish RCMP to ask public to leave Stawamus Chief

People were told to expected a ‘noted police presence’

Most Read