Telus VP Dave Cunningham and Surrey RCMP Supt. Bill Fordy examine a piece of cut cable.

Wire theft slashed after new rules on metal buying

Telus reports sharp drop in outages due to cable thieves

Metal theft is down sharply in the first six months since a new provincial law took effect to clamp down on unscrupulous scrap buyers.

Telus spokesman Shawn Hall said the number of live phone cables stolen by thieves dropped 80 per cent from almost 250 in the first half of 2012 to just over 50 in the second half.

“We saw the number of thefts decline almost immediately after the legislation was passed,” Hall said. “It makes it far more difficult for thieves to unload their material.”

The Metal Dealers and Recyclers Act requires scrap metal buyers to keep a daily log of their purchases and suppliers, who have to provide identification, be registered and can only be paid by cheque for amounts over $50.

Some individual cities already had their own bylaws, but the regulatory patchwork meant thieves could steal wire in one area and sell it in a city where it either wasn’t regulated or local rules were poorly enforced.

In the past, some dealers have paid cash without getting any ID from “salvagers” – even ones bringing in everything from street drain covers and traffic lights to metal grave markers and whole phone booths.

“There’s more to be done, but the legislation is certainly doing its part,” Hall said. “It makes it difficult for those bad apples in the scrap industry to continue knowingly buying stolen material.”

Hall also credits police for taking metal theft seriously, but added he’s hopeful the problem doesn’t escalate again after some recently jailed chronic offenders are released.

Telus lost $16 million to metal theft last year and Hall noted service outages also leave residents without 911 emergency calling and cost small businesses sales when they can’t process credit and debit cards.

BC Hydro has also reported a more than 50 per cent drop in copper wire theft since July.

So far 64 of the 76 identified metal dealers or recyclers have registered – as required under the new law – and the rest must do so by Jan. 26.

Provincial inspectors have met with all operators and performed the first periodic spot checks of most of them to ensure they comply with the new rules.

A Richmond metal dealer became the first in the province to be issued a $575 ticket under the new law for buying stolen metal – storm drain covers pilfered from Vancouver streets.

If offending dealers don’t shape up after inspectors hit them with violation tickets, authorities can also seek charges under the act – the maximum penalties are fines of up to $100,000 for a business and six months in jail for an individual.

“It’s important that this industry is regulated and our inspectors will continue to inspect metal dealers and monitor the industry to ensure compliance,” Justice Minister Shirley Bond said.

Critics in the recycling industry say there should be more emphasis on police pursuing thieves rather than adding to their paperwork.

They also say some police forces are not yet fully prepared to receive daily electronic logs of buyers.

 

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

Just Posted

Young Abbotsford cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

Abbotsford parents upset as district gets cohort exemption to maximize class sizes at elementary school

Classes and cohorts shuffled after division eliminated at King Traditional elementary school

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

COLUMN: We don’t need an election. But it’s 2020, so we’ll probably get one anyways.

There are only selfish reasons for the NDP to trigger an election this fall

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

VIDEO: Shots fired outside Langley gas station that was scene of 2018 homicide

No reports of injuries in Saturday evening incident

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Most Read