A recent string of thefts involving transit trolley wires across metro Vancouver have prompted Transit Police to issue a public plea for help in finding those responsible.
On Thursday, Metro Vancouver Transit Police said they have investigated almost two dozen incidences of trolley wire throughout the City of Vancouver in the past two years.
These thefts can cause “lengthy” delays and can cost up to $50,000 to repair and replace.
But beyond the monetary cost of fixing the wires, police said there is a very real public safety risk that comes with the situation. This risk was most recently highlighted in a January 13 incident, in what police called “a total disregard for public safety.”
In that instance, a wire theft in the area of Blanca Street and West 7th Avenue, in Vancouver, resulted in live trolley wires left dangling only feet from the ground, over a sidewalk.
Trolley wires power electric buses and carry 600 volts of electricity. A person making contact with these live wires would likely be killed, police said.
The situation was reported to police by two teenagers who came upon the scene as they were walking home in the area.
Wire theft is a “systemic issue” across North America and is a challenge for police everywhere, officials said.
The offences “typically” occur at night between 10 pm and 8 am and can happen in any part of the city where trolley wire is used.
Because of the nature of the thefts, police said, it is possible that the culprits could be using sophisticated equipment and machinery and may look like legitimate utility workers.
“It is extremely important we find the persons responsible for endangering the lives of our citizens and causing delays and expense to our bus system,”said Metro Vancouver Transit Police Chief, Doug LePard. “We ask the public to contact us with any information they believe might be useful.”
Anyone who witnesses anything suspicious such as cutting, dragging or chopping wire or unmarked vehicles involved with wire during the night, is asked to call Transit Police at 604-516-7419, or text 87-77-77.