Wire theft a continuing problem in Hope

Phone companies hit significantly for copper wiring

Police are once again asking the public for help combatting wire theft in Hope and other Upper Fraser Valley communities.

They say copper wire theft is on the rise, with several businesses being hit hard recently. While the problem has been sporadic across communities in the past, it’s becoming a wide-spread, common issue within the larger regional area.

Wire theft is very costly for local businesses, who need to replace wire and repair damage done by thieves.

In Hope, Telus and Rogers have suffered a significant loss, RCMP said.

“Copious amounts of copper wire has been stolen causing telephone interruption,” said Corporal Tammy Hollingsworth. “This has the potential to pose a huge safety risk to residents if they need to use their phone, especially for emergencies.”

On December 12, around 6:30 a.m., the Hope RCMP responded to a report of a possible theft of wire from the Telus tower on Thacker Mountain Road. Members located a 41-year-old Chilliwack woman sitting in a van with copper wire and cutting tools inside. She was taken into custody and was to appear in a Chilliwack courtroom this week. She could be facing a charge of Theft Over $5,000.

“The police often receive reports of these thefts long after they happen. By that time it’s often too late for us to identify those responsible as they have already left,” said Hollingsworth. “On the other hand, it’s often these thefts are going unreported to the police. We want to encourage people to call if they suspect a wire theft is occurring.”

In recent months, several Chilliwack businesses were targeted. Secure compounds were broken into and wire was pulled from several machines that were parked causing several hundred dollars damage to one business. Two rolls of copper wire were also stolen from this same business in the 44500 block of Yale Road. Another business was subject to theft when their compound fence was scaled and entered.  Approximately $1,000 worth of copper wire was stolen from this business in the 46000 block of Airport Road.

Agassiz too has had several thefts of wire in their area.  The Hemlock Valley and Morris Valley Road area have been hit hard in recent weeks.

“While copper wire can be appealing to thieves who sell the metal for scrap, it is extremely dangerous and can result in serious injury or death,” Hollingsworth said. “Burglars will often climb power poles, scale fences and break into buildings just to obtain a few dollars worth of metal; all of these lines hold a deadly charge.  Police have experienced that most of these people who are stealing copper wire are drug dependant and are just out to cash in to get money to support their habit.”

Copper value has increased over  700 per cent in recent years, leading to the growth of theft throughout the United States and Canada.

“You can no longer afford to leave your copper wire unprotected,” Hollingsworth said.

Here are some tips to help prevent copper theft in your community:

*  Post “No Trespassing” signs;

*  Hire security;

*  Lock buildings and compounds securely at night;

*  Use flourescent paint or engraving to brand copper materials with your company’s logo. That helps identify materials if they’re stolen and turn up later;

*  Install motion-sensor lights or security cameras on the outside of your house and business to deter possible thieves;

*  Store tools and wire cutters in a secure location, and never leave them out while you are away;

*  If you work in construction, do not leave any wires unattended or leave loose wire at the job site, especially overnight.

Never enter or touch equipment inside a substation; stay away from power lines and anything touching a power line.  If you notice anything unusual with electric facilities, such as an open substation gate, open equipment or hanging wire call the police. If you see anyone around electric substations or electric facilities other than utility personnel or contractors, call the police. Police have seen cases where the thieves are dressed as utility personnel or contractors.

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