Sugar Land Also Experienced Rash Of Back Flow Valve Thefts

“Missouri City is not the only city that experienced a rash of back flow valve thefts in September. In Sugar Land, 16 of the year’s 23 cases occurred last month. Back flow valves are connected to sprinkler systems to prevent tainted water from back flowing into the good water system.

…Missouri City police said earlier this week that many times there are witnesses to the thefts, but the witness doesn’t realize a crime is occurring. In Missouri City, 13 businesses were targeted in September. The valves contain copper, which is sold by thieves to scrap metal companies or to individuals. Missouri City police have identified a suspect, described as a white or Hispanic man in a white pickup truck. The suspect had a large “T” handle water shut-off tool and he would shut off the water then knock the brass valve off the PVC piping that it was attached to, put the valve into his truck and leave….”


Thieves target sprinkler system parts for cash

Several South Bend businesses found out on Tuesday that parts of their sprinkler system had been stolen, and replacing those parts aren’t cheap.

Irrigation and sprinkler specialists say thieves are targeting businesses and homeowners for their backflows, a brass valve that fetches thieves only about $25 at a scrap recycling company, but costs victims $200 to $400 to replace.

“With the lack of snow that we have right now, it’s real easy just to grab and go,” said Jim Flatt of H.S. Altman Irrigation….

…”There’s got to be a scrap yard somewhere that’s takin’ ’em, because it continues to happen,” said Flatt.

Most people turn off their sprinkler system by winter. So thieves know they won’t get hit in the face with water if they steal the valves now.


Thieves targeting lawn sprinkler systems

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – With the holidays approaching, homeowners need to beware of thieves trying to steal anything of value. A family near Chamberlain Lane says they caught a man trying to steal the copper valve from their sprinkler system in broad daylight.

According to Debra Von Berhren, the man was wearing a yellow vest like those worn by meter readers, and said he was with the neighborhood and was supposed to be doing work on the lawn irrigation systems.

“I’m sure people probably have seen them, and didn’t think anything of it,” said Von Berhren.

Von Berhren says she has since learned that 15 other neighbors have had the irrigation valves stolen from their sprinkler systems. An irrigation valve is worth nearly $200.


Man charged in metal thefts from irrigation systems

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A Louisville man is behind bars facing charges related to the theft of irrigation valves.

Metro Police say they arrested 30-year old Bruce Smothers, Jr. around 2 p.m. December 28 at the Hampton Inn at First and Jefferson Streets.

Officers say Smothers was trying to steal the water valve. When approached by a worker, Smothers said he was with the water company and later ran off. Police tracked him down through his license plate number and surveillance video.

LMPD says Smothers also hit multiple homes and businesses across Louisville. In one East End neighborhood, at least 15 homes were targeted.

Smothers faces more than three dozen charges, including theft. He is being held at Louisville Metro Corrections on a $2,500 full cash bond.

Thieves steal pipes from business complex

“Some workers in a southeast side business park showed up for work only to learn they had no water. Thieves had stolen much of their copper piping, leaving the complex with no water. Pima County Sheriff’s Deputies went to the Butterfield Business complex where thieves had vandalized businesses and left them literally high and dry. Deputies took reports from four businesses where backflow preventers were cut and stolen. These pipes are made of copper and brass. The businesses were without water for several hours. Kenny Sobczak works for Abacus Plumbing he says “Someone came thru here and stole a couple of one inch back flows and putting us to work today.” Abacus isn’t the only company working at this complex, next door Tucson Plumbing is also hard at work replacing stolen copper pipes and brass valves. At another business Curtis plumbing is just as busy. John Brooks of Brooks Associates Racing says this isn’t the first time their complex has been hit. …The plumbers say thieves knew what they were doing they had the right tools to cut the pipes so they didn’t damage the pipes they were stealing. One company lost more than just the copper tubing outside its building. They manufacture scientific equipment so without water, without bathrooms, and without safety precautions, they had to send their staff home. So to prevent this from happening again, a vandal cage will be installed. Kenny Sobczak says, “It stops the people from stealing because they don’t spend time breaking into the cage, its easy to cut a copper line, its not easy to break a lock into a cage.” And business owners hope the thieves stop breaking the law…”

News 4 HD, May 13, 2009

Backflow Preventer Thefts On Increase

“Jimmy Gornick is upset with good reason. “I’m not very happy,” says Gornick.

Gornick owns the Pool and Spa Outlet on Normandy Blvd. He says twice last week his business was hit by thieves looking for scrap metal. “This is actually the second time now we’ve had to replace backflow preventers on our water lines,” says Gornick. A backflow preventer is made of brass and keeps water from going back into the city’s water supply. Gornick says replacing them has been expensive. Gornick says,” For the four valves it cost me $1,377.”

Gornick filed a police report and discovered that he is one of many victims. “They said it is an ongoing problem,especially on this side of town.” he says. His valves are between the business and the street. “Where it is costing us $2,000 to replace them, they’re turning them into scrap metal for two bucks a piece,” says Gornick.

Gornick is investing in a box to better secure his backflow preventers,which are required by code, but wants other business owners to watch out for this new twist on an old scam. “It is pretty bad when people steal your stuff with no concern whatsoever,” says Gornick. Gornick is hoping the surveillance video from a nearby business will help police catch the thief.

Scrap metal thefts are being driven by the soaring prices of copper, aluminum, and bronze. The problem has forced states and local municipalities to create laws to cut down on scrap metal thefts. Florida’s law goes into effect in October.”, August 13, 2008