Taking action on metal and wire theft
What is metal and wire theft?
Metal theft is a growing and challenging problem that tends to be underestimated. Local wire and metal theft problems can be linked to international demand and high prices for metal.
Thieves target all kinds of metals. Theft can include catalytic converters in cars, copper boat propellers, metal roof gutters and fencing. Wire from street lamps and telephone cables are also vulnerable, as well as vacant buildings and homes under construction.
Thieves use a variety of methods to locate and steal wire and metal. Some have posed as renovation contractors while stripping copper from vacant homes. Others have been known to use resources such as Google Earth to identify large amounts of metal (such as spools of wire) stored outdoors.
Costs due to damage done by theft to commercial or residential properties can easily outweigh the value of the stolen items.
How does metal and wire theft impact you?
- 9-1-1 service disruptions
- Threats to infrastructure and public safety (hospitals, emergency response systems)
- Power outages – e.g. electricity, heating, street and traffic lights, highway advance warning signs
- Communication systems such as phone, television and internet service outages
- Increases to service costs and added resource demands
What to look for
- Smell of burning rubber (indicates thieves burning insulation off stolen wire)
- People digging under roadways or underpasses for metal tubing
- Covers removed off street light poles or junction boxes
- Wires hanging out of covers or compartments
- People transporting odd or large amounts of wire or metal
What do I do?
- If you see wire or metal being stolen, call 9-1-1. (crime in progress)
- If you witness a person loitering at a power or street light pole, even with an identifiable uniform, call your local detachment to request police to verify the work being done, or call the agency the employee may represent.
This material is reproduced with the permission of City of Surrey Crime Reduction Strategy and Surrey RCMP.
- Date modified: