Copper wire (Pixabay.com)

Port Coquitlam fires staff in $75,000 copper theft scheme: city

Seven employees have been fired, believed to be involved in highly co-ordinated copper theft scheme

The City of Port Coquitlam says it has fired seven employees involved in a ”highly co-ordinated” copper theft scheme that lasted over a decade and cost taxpayers more than $75,000.

Chief administrative officer John Leeburn says the plan involved the deliberate, covert theft and sale of copper pipes, the majority of which were new pipes destined for installation underground.

He alleges employees pocketed about $75,000 overall from a scrap metal dealer, with individual employees receiving cash amounts ranging from less than $100 to $10,000.

But he adds the amount is a conservative estimate and the Metro Vancouver city originally paid much more for the pipes.

Leeburn says the city has been investigating the scheme involving several employees with the Public Works Department since late February.

He says the investigation is almost done and once it’s fully complete, the information will be turned over to the RCMP.

The workers have been employed with the city ranging from one year to 21 years, he says.

About 500 people work for the city and those who have been there for decades know each other well, says Leeburn, adding he knows some of who have been fired.

There’s shock, there’s anger, there’s compassion, there’s dismay, there’s confusion about how this could happen,” he says.

“How could good people make such terrible decisions and repeatedly make those terrible decisions? I don’t have an answer for that.”

As for how the scheme could go on for 10 years without the city’s knowledge, Leeburn says it was very “tightly held, not talked about.”

The dismissals come after another former Port Coquitlam employee was charged with theft last year. Dean McIntosh, a former facility maintenance co-ordinator, pleaded guilty to stealing about $175,000 from the city over a three-year period.

The city says in a statement that it implemented a number of measures after McIntosh was charged, including a whistle-blower policy in November. The policy aims to create a safe environment for staff to come forward with reports of internal misconduct.

Leeburn stresses that the employees’ actions don’t reflect the character of the vast majority of city workers.

“We have terrific people in this organization who provide terrific service to the community, and I really want to say to the people of Port Coquitlam: Have faith in us.

“Please don’t let the actions of a small number who have made some bad decisions tarnish the great work that’s being done.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Jazz vespers to feature Red Velvet in Maple Ridge

Red Velvet band to perform May 26

Two-car crash on road to Golden Ears park

Female driver taken by ambulance; traffic diverted on route to provincial park in Maple Ridge.

Being Young: Letting spring in

Are we biased against spring?

Mad Hatters Parade and Tea Party in Maple Ridge

Event to end stigma surrounding mental illness

Pitt Meadows Foundation chooses its citizen of the year

Peter Jongbloed has been active at city hall and with environmental causes

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

The father and two youngesters fell down a steep and treachorous cliff while hiking on Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Structure fire destroys Surrey tire shop

RCMP have closed Fraser Highway down to traffic from 152 Street to 88 Avenue

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Multi-vehicle collision on highway in Chilliwack

Accident involves several vehicles, in the westbound lanes says Drive BC

Most Read