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Crackdown on CATs: Protecting Albertans from metal theft

The Albertan government in Canada is taking action to crack down on metal theft by making it more difficult for criminals to sell stolen materials and imposing tougher penalties on those who do.


metal theft crackdown on cats two

If passed, Bill 25, Protecting Alberta Industry from Theft Act, 2020, and associated regulations will require scrap metal dealers to report all transactions involving commonly stolen metals and items such as catalytic converters to law enforcement.

Metal theft is a significant risk to individuals, their families, their communities, and the public at large. Thieves terrify property and business owners by trespassing and stealing materials such as copper wire and industrial batteries, and frequently damage and interfere with critical systems like electrical lines, telecommunications networks and transportation infrastructure.

Criminals often steal metal from property owners and businesses in isolated areas to avoid detection, making rural Albertans a particular target of thieves and trespassers looking for metal to steal and sell.

The government took decisive steps against metal theft in fall 2019 by proclaiming the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act, which passed in 2013 but previous governments never brought into force.

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General said: 

“Our government has heard loud and clear from Albertans who have been victimized by property theft for far too long. We are taking action to protect them by making it more difficult for criminals to monetize the goods and materials they steal. This will send a strong message that taking advantage of vulnerable Albertans and their businesses will not be tolerated. We want Albertans to know we are going to do everything we can as a provincial government to help them feel safe.”

Al Kemmere, president, Rural Municipalities of Alberta said: 

“Scrap metal theft is an ongoing challenge across rural Alberta with major impacts on many rural business and industries. Bill 25 is an important step toward protecting rural Albertans from the risks of scrap metal theft by developing a centralized database of scrap metal sales. RMA appreciates the Government of Alberta’s decisive action to address rural crime and support safe rural communities.”

Amendments to the act and new regulations define the types of metal subject to reporting rules, specify identification requirements for sellers and record-keeping duties for dealers, as well as raising the penalties for anyone who contravenes the act.

Scott Yost, senior manager, security and contingency planning, from Capital Power said:

“We welcome these regulations and thank the government for taking strong measures to address the issue of metal theft in our province. The theft of copper wire and other metals from critical infrastructure, including the electricity sector, can be a fatal mistake for thieves and risks the safety of our employees and communities across Alberta.”

To give stakeholders time to adjust and comply, the new provisions would be implemented in two stages.

On 1st September, new provisions would include a requirement for sellers to provide government-issued photo ID. Dealers would be required to record and retain the seller’s ID information, as well as details of the transaction.

Provisions coming into force on 1st November would include requirements for dealers to report transactions to law enforcement and for all payments to be made using traceable forms of currency, such as electronic transfers or cheques.

Proposed increased fines for contraventions of the act:

For individuals:

  • First offence: $10,000 or one year in jail, or both (up from $5,000)
  • Second or subsequent offence: $25,000 or one year in jail, or both (up from $15,000)

For corporations:

  • First offence: $50,000 (up from $15,000)
  • Second or subsequent offence: $200,000 (up from $50,000)