PEI police want new copper theft laws

Police on P.E.I. want new legislation to crack down on the sale of stolen copper wire.

Police are calling for new legislation to crack down on the sale of stolen copper wire.

It's a problem across P.E.I. that is costly and potentially deadly, due to thieves pulling wire from high-voltage areas.

Charlottetown's deputy police chief, Gary McGuigan, said the force has already approached Justice Minister Doug Currie about legislation that would force buyers to keep records of their sellers.

"We'd be able to go into these recyclers and scrap metal dealers and look at their books and know who came in and if they were in fact entitled to sell the product that they took in," McGuigan said.

Steve Loggie, the vice-president of customer service for Maritime Electric, said a recent theft at an isolated electrical substation in Lorne Valley could have cost Preston Blaisdell of Souris his life.

He came within less than a metre of a 69,000 volt transmission line.

Instead, the 26-year old was sentenced to 18 months in jail Thursday. Another man is still before the courts.

Stealing wire cost a thief his life at an electrical substation in New Brunswick two years ago.

Many other thefts on P.E.I. remain unsolved, police say.

In Kings County there have been 20 cases in the last year alone.

Stolen wire from the Montague Marina cost $12,000 to replace, only half of which was covered by insurance. No one was charged in that case.

Loggie of Maritime Electric say police would have his company's full support.

"Anything that can be done to discourage the stealing and resale of copper would be welcomed by us, that's for sure," he said.