Copper thieves make for darker commute in Moncton and Riverview
MONCTON -- It's been lights out on the Gunningsville Bridge, one of two gateways from Moncton to Riverview, N.B.
Last month some of the wiring in the light standards on the bridge was stolen, yet another case adding to growing the issue of copper theft in the greater Moncton area.
"Since October, we're just over 20 calls for service where copper was stolen," said Sgt. Dan Poirier of the Codiac RCMP.
Daniel Rinzler, who manages a scrap metals facility in Moncton, says copper is easily accessible and a pound is worth between two and three dollars.
He says the problem is there's no way to identify if it's stolen.
"How do you check? I mean copper, it all looks the same, it's pipe, it's wire, there's no real identification on it," said Rinzler, who manages D.R. Scrap Metals.
Poirier says even if copper wire is confirmed as a product of theft, identifying who is responsible is difficult.
"It's just trying to identify who did it, and if we do find people, trying to link the actual copper wire we find to the actual scenes," Poirier said.
The province says the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure has taken steps to have repairs completed, but says the extent of the damage, and weather conditions, have hampered those efforts. "Repairs are expected to take several weeks to complete," the province said in a statement.
The YMCA of Greater Moncton and streetlights in Riverview have also been targets of copper theft.
NB Power says each year, on average they lose around $300,000 in theft and vandalism. About 75 per cent of that is copper theft attempts, and actual thefts.
Not only is it pricey, but risky.
"It's very dangerous," Rinzler said. "You're talking about live wire, so you can get electrocuted and it's happened before where people have died as a result of theft."
Last April, a 41-year-old man died after what appeared to be an attempted theft of copper wire at an electrical substation in Bathurst.
It's something the RCMP calls a "crime of opportunity" and they're now turning to the public for help in identifying suspects in the recent rash of thefts.