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Watch for copper thieves in Kelowna

Due to recent copper theft, the City of Kelowna, FortisBC and the RCMP are asking residents who see suspicious activity around street lights or electrical infrastructure to call the local authorities immediately and to stay clear of any exposed electrical wiring.

“Our main concern is the safety of the public,” said Joe Creron, civic operations director for the City of Kelowna. “That is why we are asking residents to call the police if they see any suspicious activity, or anything that looks like attempted copper wire theft.”

“Any exposed wiring must be treated with care and should only be serviced by FortisBC employees, who have the necessary experience and safety training,” added Dwain Bell, vice-president of operations for FortisBC. “It is impossible to know if a wire is live or not, so it is better to err on the side of safety and simply stay away and call us.”

Since January, large amounts of copper wire have been stolen across the City, which to date will cost City taxpayers more than $200,000 to replace. This is in addition to the $900,000 that will be spent over the next three years on the anti-theft devices—half the cost paid directly from taxation, and half paid from the City’s utility reserve.

“There is no doubt that the City and FortisBC are also concerned with the cost involved to replace the wire and install anti-theft devices,” said Creron.

While it is hard for the public to determine if the activity around a street light is normal maintenance or a theft, the City, FortisBC and RCMP are asking residents to report anything that seems odd. Currently, most copper wire tampering or disturbance, which may both point to potential theft, is going unreported.

“If you see any suspicious behaviour or come across exposed wiring please call 911,” said Creron. “They will figure out if a theft has occurred and secure the site where there are exposed wires.”

The RCMP has also visited local firms who purchase copper wire to reinforce the protocols in place to prevent the purchase of stolen wire.

To report suspicious behavior, contact the RCMP at 911 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

To report downed or exposed wiring, contact FortisBC at 1-866-436-7847

For more information about electricity in the City, visit kelowna.ca/utilities.

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