Copper theft is now a problem across the wider Alberta, says RCMP. Moreover, it’s no longer just a few thousand dollars worth of the metal being stolen, but hundreds of thousands.
Speaking to the press, Cpl. Curtis Peters, RCMP spokesperson, said that police have been closely monitoring the trends and have found that from the north of the province down to the south, patterns of copper theft are the same.
“The first thing we’ve noticed is that oilfield sites in remote areas are the biggest targets,” Peters said. “We have also noted that these criminals steal wires from copper content and then sell it to recycling companies that pay based on the weight of the material.”
Just days ago, Mounties in Macleod was alerted of an overnight theft of copper wires from a rural business. It is estimated that at least $15,000 worth of copper wires was cut from heavy equipment in that incident alone.
Last week, there was a similar crime in southern Alberta. Four Vulcan residents have been charged in connection with the theft.
And, towards the end of March, following a sale of stolen copper wires online, RCMP searched a Vulcan home and arrested five people. At least $10,000 worth of stolen wires were recovered. Mounties has since said that after thorough investigation, they found out that the wires had been sold online to a scrap dealer in Calgary.
The search came after a Vulcan RCMP officer visited an oilfield site where there had been theft of copper wire. The officer was able to trace tire marks on the snow and later found a car with similar tire marks, prompting the raid.
This increase in theft has left the police department worried. 2017, in particular, has seen theft levels increase dramatically, with oilfields and rural properties the biggest victims.
“Many of these theft incidences are targeting oilfields and rural areas,” the RCMP said in a statement. “Copper wires are the most targeted. But there is also an increase in theft of batteries, fuel, and vehicle.”
Peters, however, believes that the high levels of copper wire theft will come down, saying that he’s seen it first hand in his 11 years as a police officer in Alberta. Whenever demand for the product goes up, theft incidences increase; when demand falls, the levels falls.
In the meantime, RCMP will be on the trails any perpetrators.