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Surrey battles back against wire theft

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About $7 million in damages to Surrey property in the last five years has caused this city to rethink how it will tackle wire theft.

Surrey says it spends about $250,000 a month replacing all the copper stolen from street lights.

Copper thieves strip the wire, bundle it and take it to a scrap dealer, where they are paid for the commodity.

Now the city is looking at replacing all its copper wire with aluminum, which is worth far less on the market, to stop the thefts from occurring.

It's estimated the replacement will cost Surrey $10 to $12 million.

The city is also considering installing technology that can monitor street light circuit voltage drops in a more timely way, so police can catch thieves in the act.

Police made 35 arrests in 2011 related to wire theft, but there has only been a slight decrease in the number of incidents.

A staff report with recommendations will be forwarded to council once the study is complete.

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com

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