Repeated copper wire thefts have N.B. property flipper calling for change

While she is in talks with her insurer for partial reimbursement for the damages from the thefts, Jo-Anne Phillipps said this has doubled her renovation budget. Suzanne Lapointe / Global News

Repeated copper wiring thefts have set Jo-Anne Phillipps back between $35,000 and $40,000 on the renovation of her downtown Moncton income property.

While clearing snow from the duplex on Friday, Phillipps noticed the backdoor had been broken open with a crowbar.

“All the copper was stolen, from the electrical to almost all of the plumbing,” she told Global News on Wednesday.

This was the second time thieves had struck, as she had to call the police due to copper wire theft only five days prior.

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“They came back after we replaced the electrical to then take what we’d already put back in and whatever they had left behind,” Phillipps said.

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She said she was on hold with the Codiac RCMP non-emergency line for hours following the second incident, resorting to showing up in person at their office.

“The constable explained that normally in these situations, the citizen should call, so that they can meet us at the location, and I showed him my phone, that I was still on hold,” she said.

Global News reached out to the Codiac RCMP for comment on Wednesday afternoon and did not receive a response.

Phillips, whose company has been renovating and renting out properties for 13 years, including properties in Moncton’s downtown, said she has never seen anything like this.

“It was actually really sad when the situation did occur. The police officers weren’t surprised. The insurance company was not surprised. The electrician was not surprised. And not one of the recycle depots that I contacted was surprised,” she said.

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Phillipps has already spent $3,000 on a security guard for her property since the incident and is installing security cameras and an alarm system.

While she is negotiating with her insurance company on a partial reimbursement for the damages, she said the added costs have pushed the total cost of the renovation to almost half of the roughly $350,000 she purchased the property for.

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Phillipps said she believes thefts are becoming increasingly prevalent in Moncton’s downtown core and wants to see changes happen.

Recycle depots and salvage yards are overseen by the Department of Justice and Public Safety.

A representative for the department sent Global News a statement on Thursday saying it routinely inspects salvage yards to “ensure compliance.”

“An announcement regarding proclamation of the Act to Amend the Salvage Dealers Licensing Act, which includes copper wire theft, is anticipated in the next few weeks,” the statement read.

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