Lower Mainland communities hard hit by metal theft are expected to see relief as a result of new regulations effective today for transactions involving high-value metals.
B.C.'s Metal Dealers and Recyclers Act will build on bylaws long in effect in a dozen Lower Mainland communities, including Surrey, where metal theft remains a public safety concern with a multi-million-dollar tab each year. The first provincial legislation of its kind in Canada, backed by regulations developed this year, is expected to significantly curb the sale of metals stolen in one community and then sold elsewhere, where no local bylaw exists.
This provincewide approach focuses on metals and objects typically targeted by metal thieves. These include copper wire - the main target in $10 million worth of thefts from Telus alone in 2011 - as well as aluminum, bronze, brass, lead, nickel, zinc and magnesium. The regulations also cover specific metal objects like metal traffic control lights, signals and signs, sewer grates and manhole covers, and metal grave makers.
Removing the anonymity that allows metal thieves to profit from their activities is a key goal of the new law. Now, those wishing to sell regulated metals must present valid identification. In turn, scrap dealers and recyclers who buy these metals will share purchase details with their local police. Officers will be able to use this information to compare against reports of stolen metal and seek court orders to obtain further information from dealers when required.
Chilliwack MLA John Les -
"As an MLA, you hear first-hand about the impact of metal theft - on seniors who've been left without 911 emergency service repeatedly when phone lines are cut, for example, and on businesses that have had to turn away customers because they can't process credit or debit transactions. Our law is the result of a lot of collaboration and consultation, and I believe it will make a real difference in communities like Surrey and Chilliwack, not only to public safety, but also to families and business people who are simply going about their lives."
Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General -
"We heard the call for a new law to crack down on metal theft and we responded. We have the first provincial law in the country that will remove anonymity and provide police with the kind of information they need to catch metal thieves. Metal theft is a public safety issue and we need to make sure that this kind of crime doesn't pay."
Dianne Watts, mayor of Surrey -
"Wire theft is a growing and challenging issue that has become a multi-million dollar problem for the City of Surrey. The city and RCMP have implemented various measures to address this problem, and are pleased to partner with the Province to continue combating wire theft. A collaborative response is required to effectively reduce wire theft. The Province has developed an approach that limits the 'quick cash' aspect of wire theft, which will help deter thieves and ensure they're caught."
Supt. Bill Fordy, Surrey RCMP -
"Any legislation that supports deterrence of recurrent criminal activity, and that helps officers to identify and intercept those who are behind that activity, is welcome news for us and the community we serve."
View the news release from the act's introduction in November 2011:
View the subsequent release summarizing the regulations under B.C.'s new law:
The City of Surrey Corporate Report on Street Light Copper Wire Theft is available at: www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/CR_2012-R134.pdf
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice