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

Group rescued unharmed after attempting to tube Lakelse River

Terrace Search and Rescue brought in helicopter to conduct search

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Terrace couple awarded by Governor General for volunteer work

Ron and Mavis Ramsey recognized for founding society that covers medical expenses

Skeena Sawmills in Terrace inks fibre deals with Kitselas Forestry and Kalum Ventures

Sawmill set to purchase around 45,000 cubic metres of fibre per year

Skeena Sawmills in Terrace reach labour agreement with local United Steelworkers union

The four and a half year long deal was ratified on May 19, 2020 and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2020

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Most Read