Taxpayers will be getting hit in the budget next year thanks to metal thieves.
Langley City's numbers show the disturbing trend.
"We have seen a significant increase particularly in wire theft," said Gary Vlieg, the City's engineering director.
It's only October and the City has spent much more than budgeted, despite increasing the budget estimate to compensate for additional theft and vandalism.
By the time 2011 ends, the City expects to spend about $110,000 to repair the wire thefts in the small community, which will have to be covered by taxpayers.
"I believe we probably could be as high as $150,000," he said. "And that would have to be reflected in next year's budget."
Municipalities have tried various means to stop wire theft and related vandalism but the thieves soon find ways around the devices or methods.
As wire is stolen from light standards, the cover plates are being replaced with locking plates but some thieves will look at toppling the poles and pulling out the wires that run from pole to pole underground.
Both Langley Township and City contract with Cobra Electric for some of its work which includes repairing the damage caused by wire thieves.
The crews have noticed that the thieves are moving east through the Fraser Valley as municipalities to the west that have already been harder hit take steps to prevent thefts. As well the thieves appear to cause more damage to the Surrey sites the crews are called to repair, compared to Langley.
With metal prices forecast to stay high, there will likely be no relief from the thefts even though thieves only receive cents on the dollar. The B.C. government is looking at provincial legislation to help track goods and prevent a thief from cashing in stolen goods in communities with less strict buying conditions at metal dealers.
City Mayor Peter Fassbender said the public can play a key role by contacting the authorities. If people see what they think is suspicious activity by a light standard or power source and a potential theft is in progress, they should contact the police. If they see something questionable but not one is around, such as a cover removed, they should contact their local municipal office.
Often metal thieves will remove covers then return another day and if the cover is still off, they think no one is watching the area.
"Make the call because without community support, the police can't be everywhere all the time," he said.
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