Copper wire theft is on the rise in Hope.
Thieves have recently been targeting Telus cables and leaving dozens of residents and businesses without service for hours. There’s been 20 incidents of Telus cable theft in Hope since January, half of which occurred in August and September.
“It’s an ongoing concern for police,” said Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth, adding that it’s important for witnesses to contact the RCMP immediately to help ensure thieves are caught.
When Telus cables are tampered with, customers can loose service for up to 36 hours while technicians repair the damage. During this time residents are unable to make calls, including 911.
“It’s a serious issue. These thieves are putting our customers lives at risk,” said Telus spokesperson Shawn Hall.
“As the price of copper keeps going up, the incidents of cable theft has remained steady as well.”
While a thief can earn up to $200 from a scrap dealer for copper wire, Hall said each incident costs Telus $50,000 to restore service.
The number of customers affected by these disruptions has dropped significantly over the last few years, he added, as a result of efforts by the company’s security department, local police forces and public tips.
Another contributing factor is that Telus has replaced a lot of larger cable with fibre optics, which is made out of glass and plastic and therefore worthless in the scrap market.
“We’re making good progress on this issue, but there’s more to do,” said Hall.
“Really what we need is a regional coordinated policing effort and provincial legislation that would help cut off demand for this material. Thieves don’t respect municipal boundaries.”
He said a province-wide approach requiring scrap dealers to install a closed circuit television system and take identification from every one selling metal would help give police the tools they need to shut down bad operators.
Residents who notice suspicious activity in their neighbourhood or tampering of wires are asked to immediately contact the Hope RCMP at 604-869-7750.