Recent wire thefts in Langley do not represent a revival of the near-epidemic of criminal activity that existed before a new B.C. law took effect in 2012.
That’s according to officials of Telus, BC Hydro, Langley Township and the City of Langley interviewed by The Times in the wake of the latest incident.
They all said the number of wire thefts plummeted after the provincial government passed a anti-metal theft law in in 2012 and has not rebounded.
The law, which took effect in July of that year, requires licenced metal dealers and recyclers to keep records of the type of metal they buy and the identities of the people they buy it from.
They must also report their purchases to police.
Sellers of certain types of metal have to show a driver’s licence or B.C. Identification Card.
In the first year after the law took effect, the number of wire thefts from BC Hydro dropped 46 per cent.
The company told The Times the number of incidents is still low compared to pre-2012 levels.
Telus reports a similar substantial and sustained drop, as do the Township and City.
All credit the new law, along with the adoption of anti-theft measures to make it harder for thieves.
However, with scrap dealers paying around two dollars a pound for copper, the incentive is still there.
The higher copper prices are fed by demand from China’s manufacturing sector, which consumes about half of all scrap metal collected in Canada.
In the latest local incident, about 900 Langley Telus customers were left without home phone service on Aug. 21 when someone stripped wire from several utility poles.
The thieves also destroyed some nearby fibre optic cable.
The damage was extensive and services were not fully restored until Thursday evening.
The estimated value of the stolen wire has not yet been disclosed.
Earlier in the year, on Feb. 16, someone stole more than $75,000 of wire in the 5700 block of Production Way.
They chopped down two BC Hydro power poles and opened up three attached electrical transformers, taking their contents and the connecting cables.
Police are asking the public for information to assist in the identification of the person or persons responsible for the two Langley cases.
If you can assist police with their investigation, call Langley RCMP at 604-532-3200.
To remain anonymous, call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).