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October 28, 2017 3:31 am

Another Copper Wire Theft Suspect Arrested

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 @ 12:29 PM


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,

IMG_2296(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
  • Mischief
  • Breach of Probation




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