BC-wide metal theft law comes into force

Measures designed to limit resale market for stolen metals.

Canada’s first provincial metal theft law and regulations come into effect July 23, with identification and reporting requirements designed to limit the resale market for stolen assets and ensure thieves are identified and prosecuted.

Those wishing to sell regulated metals on or after that date must present valid identification. In turn, scrap dealers and recyclers who buy these metals will share purchase details with their local police. Officers will be able to use this information to compare against reports of stolen metal and seek court orders to obtain further information from dealers when required.

In May, the government wrote to municipalities that have metal-theft-related bylaws, asking them to ensure their rules do not conflict with the new provincial ones. Metal thefts frequently endanger public safety, most notably by disrupting phone lines and access to 911 emergency service. In recent years, high scrap prices have driven thefts with a total value in the tens of millions of dollars from utilities like Telus and BC Hydro.

The provincial regulations focus on metal types and objects historically targeted by thieves, ranging from copper telephone wire and plumbing to manhole covers and metal grave markers. Purchasers who fail to register with the Province and fulfil record-keeping and sharing requirements risk fines of up to $100,000.

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