December 09, 2020

Province Introduces Legislation to Combat Scrap Metal and Auto Theft

The province introduced legislation today to enhance the ability of police to respond to scrap metal theft and crimes associated with auto theft.

The Pawned Property (Recording) Amendment Act, 2020 addresses the possible sale of stolen copper and other valuable metals by creating new reporting requirements for scrap metal dealers.

“Police Services, farmers, and businesses in Saskatchewan have told us about the dangerous growth of metal theft,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Gordon Wyant said.  “This legislation will serve as a valuable tool for police when working to reduce this type of crime, which is often specifically targeted at rural property owners.”

The new legislation requires scrap metal dealers to obtain and record identification and transaction information from their clients, which can then be transmitted to police services in the same manner as with pawn transactions.  It also prohibits scrap metal transactions for individuals under 18 and restricts cash transactions.  These measures will act as a deterrent by removing the ability to quickly make money by anonymously selling stolen metal.

Stealing metals such as copper wire and industrial batteries can damage critical systems like electrical lines or transportation infrastructure.  Rural property owners bear a disproportionate burden of this type of crime because thieves target isolated properties to avoid detection.

Changes under the Traffic Safety Amendment Act, 2020 will give police the ability to charge for numerous actions that are commonly associated with auto theft, including: 

  • providing a falsified, forged or counterfeit document for the sale or registration of a motor vehicle;
  • altering information on a bill of sale, including date, signature or vehicle particulars;
  • altering a vehicle identification number (VIN) in any manner, either on the vehicle or on the proof of ownership documentation;
  • cloning a VIN (taking a VIN from a similar, legally registered vehicle and placing it on a damaged or stolen vehicle to hide its identity); and
  • knowingly selling, or offering for sale, a stolen motor vehicle.

“The protection of consumers has always been a top priority for this government,” Minister Responsible for SGI Don Morgan said.  “These amendments will ensure that law enforcement has the necessary tools to reduce auto-theft, and keep Saskatchewan residents safe.”

Currently, police have to undertake an investigation and charge someone under the Criminal Code for fraud.  Under the amended legislation, police will have the ability to issue a summary offence ticket and fine for those offences, without requiring Criminal Code proceedings (fine amounts will be determined in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice).

The Traffic Safety Amendment Act, 2020 will also require a standardized bill of sale to be submitted for all private vehicle sales in Saskatchewan, which will ensure that motor licence issuers have all the necessary information, including vehicle particulars, VIN numbers and necessary signatures.  Requiring a standardized bill of sale will make it more difficult to commit fraud.