B.C.'s mayors are rallying to toughen up legislation preventing the rampant theft of metals, but the provincial government isn't ready to act just yet.

At the annual meeting of the Union of B.C. Municipalities Tuesday, mayors and councillors called for a unified front to combat the buying and selling of stolen metals.

"We need to work on it together in the Lower Mainland and then it needs to expand to a provincial initiative as well. We may stop scrap dealers from taking the product in Maple Ridge, but if they just drive to our neighbouring community or take it up to the Interior, then that doesn't solve the problem," Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin told CTV News.

Some cities have bylaws concerning metal theft, but there's no provincial legislation targeting thieves. In May, Solicitor General Shirley Bond promised to deal with the issue once and for all, but there's been no action so far.

Bond defended her efforts Tuesday.

"I don't think the province has been dragging its heels. I think we've said clearly that we're interested in looking at what steps need to be taken, and we certainly plan to take action. It's taken me a bit of time to talk to stakeholders and to talk to partners about how the impacts have been felt," she said.

Joe Wilson, president of Sonitrol, says his security company is catching metal thieves like a magnet with surveillance video.

"What I would call a shopping-cart bandit, or a guy who rides around on a bicycle, will steal extension cords or they rip copper out of the walls, so they actually do more damage to a construction site than the stuff is actually worth," he said.

Experts estimate that metal theft costs taxpayers and companies millions of dollars in damage every year, and stolen telephone cables have lead to problems with 911 service, endangering public safety.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Julia Foy