PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. - The City of Port Coquitlam says it has fired seven employees involved in a "highly co-ordinated" copper theft scheme that lasted over a decade and cost taxpayers more than $75,000.

Chief administrative officer John Leeburn says the plan involved the deliberate, covert theft and sale of copper pipes, the majority of which were new pipes destined for installation underground.

He alleges employees pocketed about $75,000 overall from a scrap metal dealer, with individual employees receiving cash amounts ranging from less than $100 to $10,000.

But he adds the amount is a conservative estimate and the Metro Vancouver city originally paid much more for the pipes.

Leeburn says the city has been investigating the scheme involving several employees with the Public Works Department since late February.

He says the investigation is almost done and once it's fully complete, the information will be turned over to the RCMP.