Wire theft is a significant problem in the Lower Mainland and the City of Surrey has decided to take action.

Over the past two years, the City of Surrey has spent over $3.5 million on repairing damage on copper-wire theft. That does not include policing costs or staff time. Blackouts caused by the theft are also an inconvenience to many.

They are spending $9 million on a preventative solution, which they are hoping will ultimately eliminate wire theft. They will be replacing the copper wire with a compound alloy, aluminum, which is worth 90 percent less in terms of street-value, making it useless to thieves.

The casing over the aluminum is nearly impossible to burn off without damaging the metal making it useless to anyone trying to steal it. Other municipalities may see this as a wise investment and consider doing the same in the near future.

Surrey is the first city in North America to get rid of the copper wire and the project could take up to one year. Crown Contracting is proud to hold the contract and has been planning the project while working closely with the city.

In 2012, the law that was passed stated that 60 to 70 of the province’s scrap metal dealers were to file daily reports to the police, who would be then able to compare the information against police reports of metal theft. Sellers that had more than $50 worth of metal were to be given cheques not cash so they would not receive instant payment. Sellers also had to provide personal identification to the dealers so that they could be gotten a hold of by the police if need be.

While it slowed the wire theft slightly it did not curb the costly operation. The city has high hopes this prevention method will do much more.

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