British Columbia Introduces Bill to Combat Scrap Metal Theft

Canadian province hopes to reduce the level of scrap metal theft, while protecting the personal information of scrap metal sellers.

November 7, 2011

Canadian province hopes to reduce the level of scrap metal theft, while protecting the personal information of scrap metal sellers.

The province of British Columbia has introduced Bill 13, the Metal Dealers and Recyclers Act, which seeks to deter the theft of scrap metal throughout the province. If passed, the act would make British Columbia the first Canadian province with legislation targeting scrap metal transactions.

The bill was introduced during British Columbia Crime Prevention Week Oct. 3.

According to the British Columbia Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, at the current time fewer than a dozen lower mainland municipalities have bylaws that require scrap dealers to maintain records of copper and other high-value metals they purchase, and to share details daily with local police. Variations in bylaws and enforcement have failed to curb the problem, and municipalities and utilities have called for a consistent, provincial approach.
The new law is designed to help deter and prosecute metal thieves, minimize regulatory costs for the recycling industry and protect the personal information of those who sell metal to scrap dealers. Under the law:


  • Companies dealing in high-value metals like copper, which are targets for metal thieves, will be required to record details including the weight and type of metal purchased any distinguishing marks on it and where the seller says he or she got it.
  • Scrap metal dealers will share the details with local police on a daily basis and must keep their records for a minimum of one year.
  • Dealers will record each seller's personal information, including their full name, current address, telephone number and date of birth, as well as vehicle or pick-up address details.
  • To protect sellers' privacy, dealers will assign a unique code to each customer from whom they buy metal. This code will accompany purchase information supplied to the police. Dealers will only release a seller's personal information to police who present a court order for that information.
  • The law will prohibit dealers from buying regulated scrap metal from any seller unable or unwilling to provide required information.

The proposed legislation avoids the financial and administrative burden of licensing, but will create a dealer registry and a system of compliance and enforcement by appointed inspectors. More specific details - including the types of metal to be regulated, and the penalties for failing to comply with the law - will follow when the Province develops complementary regulations.