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

Just Posted

UPDATE: Four-vehicle collision snarls eastbound highway traffic in Chilliwack

Collision west of Lickman Road on Highway 1 includes three vehicles plus motorcycle

Popular retired UFV therapy dog passes away

Mac the Therapy Dog consoled countless students and staff, as well as wildfire victims

Imagination Library Fraser Valley celebrating Christmas in July

Dolly Parton early literacy intiative looking for financial support to help with waitlist

Online submissions now open for virtual Chilliwack Fair

No fee this year to submit entries for food, arts and more in 148th annual Chilliwack Fair

Handgun pointing complaint draws strong RCMP presence at Chilliwack residence Wednesday night

One in custody after brief standoff involving Emergency Response Team and canine unit

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Man shot dead in east Abbotsford suburbs

Integrated Homicide Investigative Team called to investigate

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read