Copper wire (Pixabay.com)

Port Coquitlam fires staff in $75,000 copper theft scheme: city

Seven employees have been fired, believed to be involved in highly co-ordinated copper theft scheme

The City of Port Coquitlam says it has fired seven employees involved in a ”highly co-ordinated” copper theft scheme that lasted over a decade and cost taxpayers more than $75,000.

Chief administrative officer John Leeburn says the plan involved the deliberate, covert theft and sale of copper pipes, the majority of which were new pipes destined for installation underground.

He alleges employees pocketed about $75,000 overall from a scrap metal dealer, with individual employees receiving cash amounts ranging from less than $100 to $10,000.

But he adds the amount is a conservative estimate and the Metro Vancouver city originally paid much more for the pipes.

Leeburn says the city has been investigating the scheme involving several employees with the Public Works Department since late February.

He says the investigation is almost done and once it’s fully complete, the information will be turned over to the RCMP.

The workers have been employed with the city ranging from one year to 21 years, he says.

About 500 people work for the city and those who have been there for decades know each other well, says Leeburn, adding he knows some of who have been fired.

There’s shock, there’s anger, there’s compassion, there’s dismay, there’s confusion about how this could happen,” he says.

“How could good people make such terrible decisions and repeatedly make those terrible decisions? I don’t have an answer for that.”

As for how the scheme could go on for 10 years without the city’s knowledge, Leeburn says it was very “tightly held, not talked about.”

The dismissals come after another former Port Coquitlam employee was charged with theft last year. Dean McIntosh, a former facility maintenance co-ordinator, pleaded guilty to stealing about $175,000 from the city over a three-year period.

The city says in a statement that it implemented a number of measures after McIntosh was charged, including a whistle-blower policy in November. The policy aims to create a safe environment for staff to come forward with reports of internal misconduct.

Leeburn stresses that the employees’ actions don’t reflect the character of the vast majority of city workers.

“We have terrific people in this organization who provide terrific service to the community, and I really want to say to the people of Port Coquitlam: Have faith in us.

“Please don’t let the actions of a small number who have made some bad decisions tarnish the great work that’s being done.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Mathieu Caron leads Chilliwack Chiefs to shutout win over Wenatchee Wild

Chilliwack’s netminder stopped 29 pucks Saturday night in a BCHL Showcase game at Prospera Centre.

Chilliwack Chiefs erase three goal deficit in overtime win

Down 3-0 to the Cowichan Capitals, the Chiefs came back to win 4-3 in the BCHL Showcase match.

Chilliwack man feeling helpless about puppy stolen while at church

Evidence of neighbour trespassing and accusing him of dog neglect not enough for RCMP

UPDATE: Missing Chilliwack man has been found

Chilliwack RCMP is thanking the public for keeping an eye out

UPDATED: Chilliwack councillor’s expenses being sent to the RCMP

Decision to have expenses audited and shared with RCMP taken at special meeting of council

Environment Canada confirms Ottawa area hit by two tornadoes Friday

At one point more than 200,000 hydro customers were blacked out

B.C. VIEWS: Looking under the hood of ICBC’s war on crashes

Is our accident rate really soaring, or is it inefficiency?

B.C. tent city residents have three weeks to clear out: Supreme Court

Fire risk, criminal activity in neighbourhood cited as reasons for judgment

Coaches, players on Alberta university rugby team buckle up for the Broncos

16 people died when Humboldt Broncos bus collided with a semi-truck in rural Saskatchewan

The Vatican ‘owes God an apology,’ activist says in letter to Pope Francis

Letter came after a report on sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children in six Pennsylvania dioceses

Newcomers vying to fill power void in Vancouver’s ‘weird’ election race: expert

A proliferation of new parties and independent candidates are crowding the Vancouver race

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

Most Read