Wire theft moves underground in Langley City

Thieves have taken to digging up buried lines to get the metal

Thieves are going underground to steal wire in the Langleys, digging up conduits to get at cables.

Kyle Simpson, manager of engineering operations in Langley City, said the municipality has noticed several instances where thieves have dug holes to get at underground lines in areas where there are no overhead wires to steal.

It appears to be a new tactic, said Simpson, who does not recall dealing with dug-up power lines until this year.

“It’s very frustrating and expensive,” Simpson said.

In some cases, wires have not been removed, simply cut.

“We’re not sure if the people were unsuccessful [in those cases] or if it is more of a vandalism issue,” Simpson said.

For all of 2018, the municipality had budgeted $12,000 for wire-theft repairs.

As of November, costs were at $98,000, the cost of the wires and the labour to replace them.

“It’s been a bad year for wire theft,” Simpson said.

Langley City has already taken steps to make wires harder to steal, and more measures are planned, such as adding tamper-proof bolts to wire access holes and locking lids on junction boxes.

That is expected to cost $15,000, and there is no guarantee it will completely stop the thefts.

“Unfortunately, nothing is fully tamper-proof,” Simpson said.

READ MORE: Spike in wire theft costly for Langley City

Langley Township has also experienced an upswing in wire theft incidents with 14 individual incidents of vandalism and wire theft within the last three months reported to the RMCP.

“It appears to be more rampant with thieves targeting residential areas,” said Brian Edey, Township roads operations manager.

Ebey said the Township has also seen underground lines dug up beside street lights.

“This has been going on for months,” Edey said.

“The new road that was opened recently — University Drive — has had a number of locations where [the ground] was dug out to get at wires.”

He said the method is being used to get around anti-wire-theft devices on the street lights.

The Township typically spends about $30,000 per year for vandalism and repairs including wire theft, but spent about $20,000 on wire theft between January to September and over $30,000 just in October and November .

“With the increase in incidents it will take longer to make repairs,” Edey said.

Langley Township plans to install more anti-wire-theft devices including heavy-duty “hand hole” covers to make it harder to get at wires.

Edey said the average cost of repair per incident averages $2,000 to $2,500.

An anti-metal theft law was passed in 2012 that requires licensed metal dealers and recyclers to keep records of the type of metal they buy and to record the identities of the people they buy it from.

Buyers must also report their purchases to police.

As well, sellers of certain types of metal have to show a driver’s licence or B.C. Identification Card.

In the first year after the law took effect, the number of wire thefts reported by BC Hydro dropped 46 per cent.

This year, copper commodity prices increased on world markets by 20 per cent over last year, said to be due to increased demand created by the rising popularity of electric vehicles.

If residents see people stealing wires they should call police at 911.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students at Brookswood Secondary participated in Student Vote 2020. (Katie Glover/Special to Langley Advance Times)
PHOTOS: Students cast a ballot for Langley candidates

Brookswood Secondary participated in Student Vote 2020

Voting locations in Langley for the 2020 BC provincial election. (Google)
MAP: Voting locations in Langley

Sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Aldergrove legion Branch 265 president Doug Hadley presents a poppy to Langley Township mayor Jack Froese. (Madeline Roach/Special to the Aldergrove Star)
Poppy sales begin at Aldergrove legion branch #265

Branch president Doug Hadley shared the poem Who is a Veteran to begin the time of remembrance

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the Fraser South region has doubled in the last two weeks. The number of cases in the Fraser East region has tripled.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
COVID-19 surge in B.C. fuelled by spikes in new cases in Fraser Valley & Surrey area

Number of newly confirmed cases has tripled in Fraser Valley and doubled in the Surrey/Langley area

Willowbrook Shopping Centre. (Langley Advance Times files)
Le Chateau will shutter stores in Willowbrook, across Canada

The Canadian fashion company says COVID-19 has made it impossible to continue operating

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

Most Read