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

Metal dealing law aims to crimp wire thieves

System to relay info from scrap buyers to police not yet in place



New B.C. regulations clamping down on metal theft are now in effect but nobody’s predicting the scourge will be wiped out any time soon.

Scrap metal buyers now must 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.

The Metal Dealers and Recyclers Act aims to plug gaps in the patchwork of different municipal bylaws drawn up by cities to try to combat wire theft.

“Hopefully we’ve landed at a place where we have something that will work effectively,” said provincial spokesman and Chilliwack MLA John Les, adding the government will consider further changes if necessary.

“There are some awfully wily people out there who are sometimes pretty clever in figuring out the workarounds.”

While bylaws have helped reduce unscrupulous salvage metal buying in a dozen Lower Mainland cities, wire and other objects are still pilfered in those areas and then resold where no bylaws exist.

Despite having a bylaw, the City of Surrey alone incurred nearly $3 million in losses last year and media stings have found spotty compliance among local dealers.

Telus pegs its losses to metal thieves at $16 million last year – resulting in phone service outages that left customers unable to use 911 in emergencies – and the firm is averaging an incident each day so far this year.

“We hope it will be a turning point in the battle against metal theft in B.C.,” Telus vice-president Dave Cunningham said of the new law.

He wouldn’t estimate how much Telus might pare its losses, but said the company would be happy if it could halt the steady climb in metal theft incidents.

Everything from phone and power lines to phone booths and manhole covers get dragged in to metal salvagers, mainly by prolific offenders in search of drug money.

Provincial inspectors will also do periodic spot checks of the more than 120 scrap metal dealers in B.C. to ensure they register and comply with the rules.

Violators face fines of up to $100,000 and possible jail time.

The regulations cover not just wire – the main target of thieves – but other specific metal objects like traffic lights, signs, sewer grates and metal grave markers.

The new law was a long time coming – municipalities and utilities had been lobbying for action since at least 2006.

Questions abound over how much use police will be able to make of the information collected by buyers to pursue suspected thieves.

Dealers are supposed to relay the information on what they buy daily and police can compare that to reports of stolen items and then get a court order for more information as needed.

Surrey RCMP Supt. Bill Fordy said greater dealer accountability will give police more scope to investigate.

“If we see a pattern of persons bringing in items to a certain contact, it gives us a point to initiate an investigation and we can go from there,” Fordy said.

Surrey RCMP recently arrested a pair of prolific offenders with 700 pounds of copper wire and busted another 35 metal theft suspects last year.

Fordy admitted a planned system for scrap dealers around the province to electoronically send their buyer logs to local police isn’t yet in place and he had no estimate of when it will be ready.

“It is a priority – we’ll deal with it as quickly as we can.”

Critics in the recycling industry contend the rules put too much onus on them instead of the thieves.

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

 

Just Posted

Hundreds attend Hells Angels funeral in Maple Ridge

Body of Chad John Wilson found last month face-down under the Golden Ears Bridge.

Dwillies stepping down from Haney Farmers Market

Maple Ridge senior spends majority of life focused on food

MacDuff’s Call: Respecting Christ as part of Christmas

Tradition of helping people less fortunate is huge part of season.

Wrestlers rally to save Ramblers team

Loss of MRSS annex threatens successful program

Ryder helping others stay dry for holiday season

Raised more than $4,200 to purchase boots and winter gear for people living in poverty in Maple Ridge.

Ridge hospital foundation helps with mental health

Donates a possible $500k for youth wellness

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Gas prices to climb 11 cents overnight in Lower Mainland

Hike of 17 cents in less than 48 hours due to unexpected shutdown of Washington state pipeline

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

37% of Metro Vancouver sees real estate industry as ‘extremely corrupt’

Report comes as the B.C. government continues to probe alleged links of money laundering in casinos to real estate

Most Read