We're out to stop electricity theft, which is costly and dangerous
The theft of electricity poses significant dangers to you and your family.
It can damage equipment and cause power outages, and it costs everyone in B.C. who is paying for the power they use. We do everything we can to stop it.
Many, but not all, incidents of electricity theft in B.C. are related to marijuana growing operations, also referred to as grow-ops. BC Hydro is a partner with police, fire safety inspectors, and municipalities in the effort to stop illegal marijuana grow-ops.
We use four tactics to stop illegal grow-ops:
- BC Hydro investigators: We employ a team of former law enforcement officers who aggressively investigate reports of electricity theft and meter tampering. When these officers confirm a theft, BC Hydro makes complaints with law enforcement who can obtain search warrants and recommend charges.
- Crime Stoppers: Crime Stoppers provides our investigators with a list of addresses where potential electricity thefts have been reported.
- Police: We respond to police requests for information as required by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
- Safety officials from local governments: The Safety Standards Act provides us with a framework to support local governments with consumption data for fire safety inspection programs.
Dangers of electricity theft: power surges and fires
Electricity theft creates situations where more power flows through the lines than is expected. This creates power surges and system failures due to high loads. That means outages in your neighbourhood and a greater possibility of fires and even explosions.
Dangers to people
- Illegal connections to power lines are never safe, as they haven't been installed by professionals. They're a danger to anyone who may come into contact with them, especially young children.
- In emergency situations, such as fires, electricity needs to be shut off to permit firefighters and other emergency personnel to do their jobs safely. Power lines that have been compromised by theft measures can stay energized even when emergency responders think they’ve been shut off.
- BC Hydro employees who work on the power lines are at risk from electricity theft.
Dangers to property
- Power surges due to electricity theft can damage the wiring in your home and can lead to electrical fires. The overloads can also harm your electrical equipment and appliances.
Dangers to the electrical system
- High loads that occur with electricity theft cause power surges and electrical system failures. This damages BC Hydro equipment and infrastructure, what we call the grid, and can lead to the premature failure of expensive electrical transformers.
Suspicious signs of electricity theft
You can help identify electricity theft by being aware of your neighbours and your neighbourhood. Notice strangers who may be hanging around and recognize suspicious activity and objects.
Signs of electricity theft are usually found on electrical wires and electricity meters:
- Is the metal tag on the meter broken?
- Are there cut wires sticking out of the meter?
- Are there numerous wires or cables coming out of the meter?
- Are there strange objects or tools jammed in the meter?
- Is the meter missing?
- Is a meter being worked on by someone who’s not a BC Hydro employee?
- Are there wires that are cut or hanging off the power line itself?
- Are there lots of extension cords snaking across a property for weeks at a time?
Report electricity theft
Reporting electricity theft can protect you, your family, your neighbours, and your property. If you suspect electricity theft, contact your local police department.
If you prefer to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers. You will not have to identify yourself and you will not have to testify in court:
- Phone Crime Stoppers: 1 800 222 TIPS (1 800 222 8477)
- BC Crime Stoppers website
For more information about marijuana grow operations, visit the RCMP