A dike gate that protects the City of Pitt Meadows from rising tides were lifted off its hinges by would-be thieves last week.
The steel gate, 1.2 metres by 1.2 metres and near Pitt Lake, was noticed missing on May 5 by a city employee during a routine dike inspection.
It was found underwater, with ropes tied to it.
“For some reason, they dropped it,” said city operations superintendent Randy Evans.
If they managed to haul the heavy steel barrier away, replacing it would have taken six to eight weeks.
It’s the latest in a string of metal brazen thefts in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.
On Monday, Evans discovered someone had cut the lock of a dike gate near the Halo sawmill, off Fraser Dyke Road.
In February, three memorial benches were stolen from a stretch of dike between Harris and Baynes roads.
Last October, three commemorative bronze plaques on the Pitt River Bridge were stolen, and later turned up at a scrap metal dealer, cut into more than 30 pieces.
The plaques, which had been secured by titanium rods, weighed more than 600 pounds combined.
The attempted theft of the dike gates worries Evans.
Every municipalities along the Fraser River has dike gates.
“This isn’t just a piece of metal,” he said. “This protects the safety of the public. This is dangerous. Once they are gone, there is no protection from the tidal influence and water coming into the lowlands.”
A high tide would push water into the sloughs and ditches that run throughout Pitt Meadows. Coupled with the recent heavy rain, those waterways could overflow.
Police have received reports of all-terrain vehicles on the dikes at night and are asking nearby residents to report any suspicious activity along them.
Evans said there are some suspicions about one particular group in town that’s may be responsible for all the metal thefts.
It isn’t just steel that’s a hot commodity. With roughly 200 incidents in the Lower Mainland annually, scrap metal theft costs Telus in the range of $10 million every year.
More significantly, however, is that copper wire thefts often cut 911 service, which can endanger lives should they encounter an emergency.
Telus has also been actively lobbying provincial and municipal governments to enact legislation that would make it more difficult for thieves to sell stolen scrap metal, and make it easier for police to prosecute them.
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