WATCH: Ladysmith RCMP are investigating after two transformers were knocked over possibly by thieves trying to steal copper wire. The incident comes as Nanaimo RCMP say they’ve had given several reports of copper wire being stolen south of the city. Kendall Hanson reports.
An area behind the Save-on-Foods in Ladysmith was taped off Wednesday after two transformers fell and spilled hazardous material.
The two transformers were on a raised platform before they were knocked to the ground. Mounties say the fallen transformers were reporterd earlier in the morning and weigh more than a thousand pounds.
“The chemical that’s in the transformer can actually cause cancer, so you don’t want to inhale it,” Const. Christine Pearce from Ladysmith RCMP said.
“You don’t want to drive through it. You don’t want to handle it.”
Pearce said they are not sure if someone knocked them off or if they blew over in the wind.
“Suspicions and reports seem to indicate that there are invidiuals that may have been trying to steal copper wire.”
Nanaimo RCMP said copper wire theft may be on the increase again and there are several significant thefts from BC Hydro manholes near the Nanaimo River road, south of the city.
The first theft happened in late November and the most recent was in the first week of January.
Const. Gary O’Brien from Nanaimo RCMP said two-and-a-half kilometres of copper wire have been stolen and the replacement value is around $100,000.
O’Brien also said pulling off the theft would have taken significant effort.
“They were taken from about 16 manhole covers, which weigh two to three hundred pounds each,” O’Brien said.
“It would take two to three people to remove those with the required equipment. and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were there for several nights to remove it and probably wore outfits so people would assume they’re working for BC Hydro or another utility company.”
The price of copper has jumped a dollar per pound in the past 18 months to $3.20 US, making copper thefts that much more lucrative.