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Gas company working with Crime Stoppers to reduce theft

Fortis B.C. has joined B.C. Hydro on Crime Stoppers’ list of agencies with which it shares anonymous tips.

Fortis and Crime Stoppers announced a co-operation agreement to help combat energy theft in B.C. in a press release April 30. The agreement is the same as the one struck up in 2007 with B.C. Hydro.

About 95 per cent of energy theft – electricity and natural gas – happens in the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan and elsewhere in the B.C. interior. Five percent of all B.C. Hydro electricity theft happens on Vancouver Island, usually attributed to illegal marijuana grow operations, said Mora Scott, B.C. Hydro spokeswoman.

All told, electricity theft across the province accounted for about $100 million per year prior to the installation of smart meters and those costs were borne by B.C. Hydro customers. The company aggressively pursues theft investigations through a team of field investigators and new tracking tools available through the smart-meter equipped power grid. B.C. Hydro predicts those tools will help cut losses by 75 per cent.

“In 2012 there was one instance of gas theft in Nanaimo,” said Grace Pickell, Fortis B.C. spokeswoman. “But what we are finding is that we think that there’s more. That number’s probably larger and that’s why this Crime Stoppers collaboration is so great because  we’re going to have more tools at our disposal to be able to identify and detect natural gas theft a lot sooner.”

Fortis B.C. did not have 2013 figures available or information on whether commercial or residential customers were the primary targets for natural gas theft.

Fortis B.C. provides electricity to approximately 163,000 customers in the B.C. southern interior and natural gas to about 956,000 customers across the province.

Anyone with information about energy theft can please contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.

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