Copper wire thieves add Victoria to list

Copper wire thieves have struck for the first time in Victoria, bringing the number of underground thefts in the region to six.

Victoria Police Const. Ken Ramsay searches a manhole for evidence left by copper thieves.

Victoria Police Const. Ken Ramsay searches a manhole for evidence left by copper thieves.

Copper wire thieves have struck for the first time in Victoria, bringing the number of underground thefts in the region to six.

About 450 metres of underground electrical copper wiring, valued at $30,000, was reported missing from Topaz Avenue and Gillie Place by B.C. Hydro on Monday around 11 a.m.

Victoria police are also investigating two thefts of 295 metres of underground copper wiring valued at $23,000, that occurred in Esquimalt.

The Greater Victoria cases are unique in that thieves accessed underground wiring via manholes, while elsewhere in the province above-ground substations and hydro lines have been targeted, said Bob Harriman, B.C. Hydro chief security officer.

Thieves have struck twice in Langford and once in Saanich.

It will cost B.C. Hydro more than $130,000 to replace wiring and make repairs at all six locations. In the last four months, the bill to replace stolen wire in the province and make related repairs has climbed to $850,000, Harriman said.

In response to the recent string of thefts on the South Island, B.C. Hydro staff have sped up their routine schedule of inspecting 764 manholes in the Capital Region “to ensure the system is not compromised in any way,” he said.

B.C. Hydro suspects organized thieves, who may be wearing B.C. Hydro jackets and vests that recently went missing from hydro vehicles, are to blame. Other uniforms and safety equipment were taken from a construction trailer in Langford last summer.

“We’re assuming that they’re all linked right now (but) we’re certainly not going to rule out individual cases,” said Const. Mike Russell, Victoria police spokesperson.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.