Scrap Metal Theft

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One explanation why drug addicts are called junkies is that early in the last century, addicts often stole scrap metal to support their habit. But in the 21st century, scrap metal is far too valuable to leave to addicts. We find out what's driving the trade in stolen metal and what's being done to stop crooks from ripping the wiring from the walls.



Part Two of The Current

Scrap Metal Theft - Canadian Association of Recycling Industries

We started this segment with a clip from Shawn Hall of Telus in Vancouver on a case of wire theft from earlier this week. Thousands of customers were left without phone service for more than 24 hours.

It's not just an inconvenience. It's expensive. Last year alone, metal theft cost Telus an estimated 19 million dollars. Municipalities in B.C. have slowly introduced rules they hope will cut down on the thefts... and now the BC Government is setting standards for people who buy and sell scrap metal.

Starting in July, dealers must send daily notices of their metal purchases to police, who will compare the information with theft reports. Metal sellers must provide personal details like name, address and phone numbers. And sellers with more than $50 in metal will be paid by cheque, not cash.

At one scrapyard in Vancouver, the owner feels he's being punished for someone else's crime. We heard from Mark Babins, he owns a Vancouver Scrap metal company.

Len Shaw is the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries. He was in our Ottawa studio.

Scrap Metal Theft - Bloomberg Correspondent & Author

According to our next guest, the rise in metal theft in Canada is linked to the demand for recycled metals from expanding economies -- like China's.

Adam Minter is the Shanghai correspondent for Bloomberg World View. He has followed the international recycling industry for more than a decade. His forthcoming book is Wasted: Inside the Multi-Billion Dollar Trade in American Trash. It looks at the hidden world of globalized recycling. Adam Minter joined us from Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath and Josh Bloch.


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