05/09/2012 01:55 EDT | Updated 07/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Metal theft targeted by new B.C. regulations

Tough new fines and regulations designed to crack down on the illegal theft and sale of scrap metal across B.C. will come into force in July, Justice Minister Shirley Bond has confirmed.

The regulations will force scrap metal dealers to file daily reports to police, who will be able to compare the information with reports of metal theft.

Sellers will also be required to give their personal identity information to the dealers and police will be able to obtain that information with a court order if they believe the metal was illegally obtained.

Provincial inspectors will also patrol scrap yards, and issue fines of up to $100,000 and six months in prison for dealers who don't comply.

"Effectively deterring metal thieves really is a matter of public safety. Metal thieves interfere with telephone service and emergency communications, and often leave live wires in their wake, posing the threat of electrocution to maintenance and repair workers and other innocent people," said Bond.

The new legislation, which was passed by the legislature last November, was finalized on Tuesday and will take effect July 23. An estimated 60 to 70 dealers and recyclers will be affected.

The problem of metal theft was highlighted Monday for residents of Delta, when thieves cut five Telus cables and knocked out telephone and 911 service to nearly 3,000 homes and businesses.

Ken Haertling, the chief security officer for Telus said each of the incidents it dealt with last year cost $50,000 on average to repair.

"This happened 380 times last year, and we're seeing a similar pace so far this year."

A number of municipalities, including Surrey and Vancouver, have similar bylaws in place and Telus says it has fewer problems with theft in those cities, so it welcomes the new province-wide rules.