People selling metal to scrap dealers in Alberta may soon be forced to show identification in an effort to cut down on the theft of copper power lines.

Bill 201 was introduced in the Alberta Legislature by Sherwood Park-Strathcona PC MLA Dave Quest. He calls the measures in his bill a deterrent because they would create a paper trail for police.

"Right now if you can actually steal that scrap metal you're free and clear because you can sell it to a dealer for cash and there really is no way of tracking you down," Quest said. 


Alberta RCMP found copper wire and galvanized steel in a pickup truck they believe was stolen in Saskatchewan last week. (RCMP)

"If you know now that you have to actually produce some identification when you go to sell it, you may not do it in the first place."

Metal theft has been growing because of an increase of the value of copper. And Quest says it isn't a victimless crime.  Sometimes the cost of damage from copper thefts is greater than the value of the wire, he says.

"There have been situations where wiring has been stolen from LRT lines, so the trains can't run," he said. "Believe it or not, there's actually been situations where wire has been stolen from live power lines and people have been injured or killed."

Telus Communications lost $19 million last year due to damages from copper wire theft. Telus spokesman Chris Gerritsen says his company supports any efforts to deter thieves.

"If it makes it more difficult to try to unload it, definitely, we're completely behind that," he said.

New rules in British Columbia take effect on July 23. They require sellers to provide personal information for each transaction, and compel dealers to file reports with police each day.

Quest hopes MLAs pass his bill when the Alberta legislature resumes this fall.