(Neil Corbett/THE NEWS) Kim Peters said the business has spent thousands of dollars with regular security upgrades and fence repairs to keep thieves out.

Maple Ridge business plagued by thefts

Big Valley started out with just a chain-link fence

The staff at Big Valley Heating and Sheet Metal has fenced itself in to protect from further thefts.

Big Valley, located on 216th Street for the past 14 years, has experienced ongoing problems with thieves trying to get into its yard, buildings and vehicles. The business has spent an estimated $15,000 on fences, locks and barbed wire, increasing security with each incursion.

“We look like a prison here, because we have been building higher and higher to keep them out,” said Kim Peters, with the company.

He said thieves have been hitting them regularly occurrence, mainly stealing copper.

“We have cameras, and every weekend we could watch them climb a tree and drop into our yard.”

With high-quality copper selling for $3.35 per pound, it made the business a target for thieves looking for an easy score – the easiest thing to carry for the most amount of money.

The business started with a standard chain-link fence, topped with barbed wire, around the yard. Staff soon discovered that thieves would go into the Haney Presbyterian Church next door, as it has no security fencing. There is a playground area, and suspected thieves put the large plastic climbing apparatus against the Big Valley fence, and climbed over.

In that first theft, culprits broke into three vehicles looking for tools, and stole copper fittings. The recycled copper used to be stored in barrels outside, but has now been taken indoors.

Big Valley paid to have a fence topped with barbed wire at the access to the church playground area.

The Big Valley fence went higher, approximately eight feet, and was again topped with barbed wire.

Next, thieves cut their way through the fence. Sometimes nothing obvious was stolen, but it would sometimes cost close to $500 to repair the fence.

The business had metal bars inserted, woven through the fence both horizontally and vertically, and welded in place. Those made it almost impossible for thieves to cut their way through the fence with standard bolt cutters.

Then they dug under, so the fence had to be set into the ground.

Determined, thieves were still getting over the fence, and the barbed wire, so the business added razor wire at the top of the fence, about two and a half years ago.

Still, the barbed and razor wire was bent back in some locations, where thieves tried to gain entry, as recently as April.

Metal theft was a huge problem, but changes in law about seven years made it harder for thieves to sell their ill-gotten gains.

Big Valley reports obvious thefts to police, but sometimes doesn’t report those incidents where there is damage to the fencing, but can’t determine if anything is missing.

Big Valley has images of people on video, but so far no arrests have been made.

Peters said the police do what they can, and do regular patrols, cruising behind the church and looking in the yard.

Their story is not unique, and Peters said many businesses – and you can tell them by their high fences – have similar problems.

“We have a problem,” said Peters.



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