Taxpayers will take the hit for copper wire thievery

Copper wire theft appears to be the newest way to make a quick buck and as cops struggle to put a lid on the crime they’re turning to both the public and provincial government for some help.

“We’re asking people to be our eyes and ears,” said Supt. Bill McKinnon during one of his regular crime statistics updates for city politicians.

“If you see someone standing at light (posts) and pulling wire call us.

“(Thieves) pull strands and they can go on for hundreds of yards, and there’s hundreds of dollars that can be made.”

While thieves do what they can to put hundreds of dollars in their pockets, they’re also sucking cash from taxpayers.

“Around $160,000 of copper wire has been stolen from the City of Kelowna in the last few months,” said McKinnon, prompting Mayor Sharon Shepherd to point out that will impact local taxes.

Coun. Andre Blanleil asked McKinnon what local governments could do to snuff out the crime, but learned it would be better to kick the issue up a level.

“I would encourage the province to take steps to get involved,” said McKinnnon.

He explained that if one community puts in measures to block the sale of copper, it will just be sold in another city or town.

“It’s a problem in every community because the cost of copper wire.”

In other areas city crime, McKinnon reported a downward trend.

Robberies fell by 33 per cent, assaults dropped 22 per cent, break and enters saw a 39 per cent reduction and auto theft fell 36 per cent.

McKinnon pointed out that one of the more heartening stats, which may be attributed to recent legislation, was that impaired driving offences were down 59 per cent,  while car crashes fell 32 per cent.