Another Copper Wire Theft Suspect Arrested
Sergeant Kent MacNeill shows the open end of a Telus cable found at the crime scene – photo 250News
Prince George, B.C.- For the second time in two weeks, Prince George RCMP have made an arrest of a suspect in a copper wire theft investigation.
Yesterday, around 1 in the afternoon the PG RCMP Crime Reduction Team located a 33 year old Prince George man on Pickering Road, on the east side of the Fraser River. The man was in possession of copper wire police believe had been stolen from overhead Telus lines.
Investigators checked the nearby abandoned BC Hydro building as it had been the site of previous illegal wire stripping operations, and found the building was being used as a site where the casing could be burned off the wire.”Thieves get more for stripped wire than if its still encased” says Sergeant Ken MacNeill, ” removing the casing is very labour intensive, so a thief just won’t get as much money for the wire if it’s still encased.” The most recent price of copper wire was $2.6345 a pound.
In the middle of the now trashed room, were discarded hypodermic needles, discarded cable casings and two burning barrels with a length of cable, looking like a string of burned spaghetti, draped across both,
(photo at right) The fire was burning when police entered the building, and the cable casing was starting to melt.
Copper wire theft has become a serious and very expensive problem in Prince George over the past few months, costing Telus and BC Hydro hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs says Sgt. MacNeill “It’s not just the ten or 15 foot piece of stolen cable that has to be replaced, Telus has to restring hundreds of feet of cable to properly replace the line. It’s costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in just the past few months.”
While there is legislation in place aimed at preventing metal salvage companies from accepting stolen copper wiring, Sgt. MacNeill says there seems to be some confusion about the rules laid out in the legislation. “Some believe the person trying to sell the wire has to provide proof of ownership, while in another place in the legislation it calls for description of ownership, so there needs to be more clarity and we are working with the metal salvagers on the issue.”
No doubt about it, if there is no buyer, the product wouldn’t be the subject of illegal harvesting.
But there’s more than a policing issue here says Sgt.MacNeill, “It’s a legislative issue as the Scrap Metal Act needs to be clear, it’s a policing issue for sure, it’s an issue for Telus and the public as downed lines mean people near those lines no longer have land line connections.” He says the RCMP have been working closely with Telus Security, and metal salvage companies in town have been cooperative. There is also an issue with the security of the abandoned BC Hydro building. It had been the site of a previous cable casing burn operation that was busted in January of this year. The building had been re-secured following that event, but determined thieves found a way in again for this latest operation
In this latest investigation, the cable was being cut from poles along the north side of the CN bridge, in some cases being dropped below to the east bank of the Fraser River, where thieves could refine their work under the bridge.
The other two most recent cases in Prince George saw 2 men arrested on June 29th after a B&E and cable theft from a business on P.G. Pulpmill Road. In January of this year two men were arrested and face a string of charges related to cable theft after being discovered inside the abandoned BC Hydro building in the process of burning off the casing.
In this latest case, 33 year old .Michael James White has been charged with:
- Break & Enter
- Possession of Property Obtained by Crime
- Breach of Probation