Nanaimo RCMP are investigating a string of copper wire thefts south of Nanaimo.
According to police, for the past two months, thieves have pilfered more than two kilometres of copper wire from B.C. Hydro manholes near the intersection of Nanaimo River and South Wellington roads in Cassidy.
Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said the first of the thefts was reported in November when an estimated $53,000 worth of wire went missing. There have been more thefts since.
“They’ve hit 16 manholes … and there has been 2.3 km of copper wire stolen from underneath these stations,” O’Brien said.
He said it would require two people, a truck and other equipment to lift the heavy manhole covers to get at the wire.
B.C. Hydro estimates cost in materials and labour to repair damage and replace the stolen wire is about $100,000.
“Metal theft is a huge concern to B.C. Hydro. It’s a crime that affects the safety of the public and our employees and also has an impact on the reliability of our electrical system,” said Karla Louwers, B.C. Hydro spokeswoman, in an e-mail. “It is an extremely dangerous crime that not only exposes the perpetrators, but our employees, customers as well as the general public to significant risk. The impact to critical infrastructure and the risk to public safety are potentially significant.”
Louwers went on to say B.C. Hydro loses about $1 million due to metal theft annually and the company works proactively with police, bylaw officers, government enforcement and B.C. recyclers to combat copper theft.
The most recent reported theft from the site happened Jan. 12.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or, to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, text 274637, keyword Nanaimo or submit a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.