Metal theft is a 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 to commercial or residential properties during the theft can easily outweigh the value of the stolen items.
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 to 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 the non-emergency number 604-599-0502 to request police to verify the work being done, or call the agency the person is representing.
Regional Automated Property Information Database (RAPID)
On January 1, 2018 the City of Surrey modernized the Second-hand Dealers and Pawnbrokers By-law to include electronic reporting. The bylaw, which has existed since 1997, requires pawnbrokers and scrap metal dealers to report all property they intake to police. The newly adopted electronic reporting has been designed for automated comparison with information entered in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). This has streamlined the process for investigators allowing Surrey RCMP to more efficiently track stolen property.
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