New B.C. regulations crack down on metal theft

Under the new law purchasers will risk fines of up to $100,000

New regulations will soon come into effect to help reduce thefts of copper wire and other high-value metals, says Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

The regulations follow the B.C. government’s approval of Canada’s first provincial metal theft law in November 2011.

Under the new regulations that will come into effect July 23, British Columbians trying to sell metals often targeted by thieves will need to present identification to the scrap purchaser, who will in turn share purchase details daily with police.

As well, purchasers who fail to register with the Province and fulfil record-keeping and sharing requirements under the new law will risk fines of up to $100,000, as well as up to six months’ imprisonment.

The new regulations are the result of extensive consultations with utilities, municipalities and scrap metal dealers. They are designed to respond to the significant number of thefts that continue to incur tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to utility and municipal assets across B.C., including copper telephone wire, manhole covers and sign posts. The Province has also worked with municipalities to ensure the law and regulations complement existing bylaws in a dozen B.C. communities.

The July 23 implementation date will allow time to educate metal dealers, recyclers and their customers, and to ensure those who must register have time to do so.

An estimated 60 to 70 dealers and recyclers will be affected.

The law aims to greatly limit the resale market for stolen assets, through a strong regulatory regime backed by significant fines for non-compliance, and to ensure metal thieves are identified and prosecuted, through mandatory, strategic collaboration between regulated metal dealers and police.

The Province has also worked with the recycling industry to minimize associated regulatory costs and protect the personal information of those who sell metal to scrap dealers.