A new law makes catching and prosecuting metal thieves in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows easier than ever.
Canada's first provincial metal theft law and regulations came into effect Monday (July 23).
The new legislation includes requirements designed to limit reselling stolen metal and ensure that thieves are identified and prosecuted.
The new rules require those who sell metal to present valid identification. Scrap dealers and recyclers who buy these metals will share purchase details with local police.
Mounties will be able to use this information to compare against reports of stolen metal and to seek court orders to get further information from dealers when required.
"There is no question that metal theft is a problem in our region," said Ridge Meadows RCMP Insp. Dave Fleugel.
"Although we welcome the new provincial legislation, the District of Maple Ridge has been very proactive in the regulation of metal recycling by creating a municipal bylaw," he told The TIMES.
"Our community didn't just wait for the province to enact a legislation, we proactively took steps and it's been beneficial," Fleugel explained.
In May, the government wrote to municipalities that have metal-theft-related bylaws, asking them to ensure their bylaws do not conflict with the new provincial rules.
According to Fleugel, there will be a period of adjustment.
RCMP and District bylaw staff have met several times to discuss how the existing bylaw and new legislation will work together.
"We are aware of a potential conflict and will wait for further legal clarification," the inspector said.
Metal thefts frequently endanger public safety, most notably by disrupting phone lines and access to 911 emergency service. In recent years, high scrap prices have driven thefts with a total value in the tens of millions of dollars from utilities like Telus and BC Hydro, businesses, and municipalities.
The provincial regulations focus on metal types and objects historically targeted by thieves, ranging from copper telephone wire and plumbing to manhole covers and metal grave markers. Purchasers who fail to register with the province and fulfill record-keeping and sharing requirements risk fines of up to $100,000.
"We are working hand-in-hand with the recyclers and bylaw department. With our bylaw and new provincial legislation, we have significant enforcement options," Fleugel said.