Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Thieves Targeting Crack Pipes and Copper Wire Drive Oilpatch Crimes Spike: RCMP

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Thieves Targeting Crack Pipes and Copper Wire Drive Oilpatch Crimes Spike: RCMP

Article excerpt

Oilpatch crimes on the rise, RCMP stats show

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CALGARY - When it comes to protecting thousands of remote oil and gas well sites scattered across Alberta's prairies and foothills, RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters is more concerned about crack addicts than vandals.

The 854 crimes reported at those sites in the first 10 months of 2016 have already exceeded the number in all of 2015, RCMP statistics show, an increase some are blaming on Alberta's economic slowdown.

Almost all of the reports have been related to theft, said Peters, adding only 41 are labelled tampering or vandalism.

He said some of the most unusual reports concern stealing "sight glasses," long thin glass tubes attached to chemical tanks to provide an external visual gauge of how full the tanks are.

"They make crack pipes and meth pipes out of these sight glasses," Peters explained in an interview.

"It's a clear glass tube that's the right size to be able to shape it with heat ... Some of them are around three feet long so they take them out and break them into chunks and use the ones they get to make meth pipes and crack pipes."

He said some of the thieves who have been caught are people who work in the oilpatch but that the use of the tubes is common among drug users in areas with nearby oil and gas activity. He said statistics don't specify how many of the tubes were stolen this year.

Travis Ferguson, director of environment, health and safety for Calgary-based Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA), said that his company has had dozens of sight glasses stolen in recent years, at a hefty cost. When the tubes are removed, the liquid inside the tank runs out.

"If somebody steals a sight glass and drains a 400-litre tank of corrosion inhibitor, it's not the product, the product is a few thousand dollars, it's the damage to the environment we're much more concerned about," he said.

"The cleanup could be tens of thousands of dollars. …

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