Two men charged with stealing meters in Broward, Miami Dade counties. Watch the video below

March 2008
PLANTATION, FL - State and local fire officials announced the results of an investigation Thursday that led to the arrests of two men accused of stealing hundreds of copper and brass meters from apartment buildings and stores in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Both men have been charged with grand theft and tampering with fire equipment.

The equipment are heavy items used in the sprinkler and standpipe systems outside buildings, fire officials have said. The devices have various uses, ranging from providing a quick hook-up for fire hoses when firefighters are responding to fires, to pumping water into sprinkler systems that extinguish fires inside of buildings. Having parts stolen or damaged delays firefighters' responses and may require additional resources to extinguish or prevent a fire, they said.

The backflow meters, which resemble pipes connected to water meters, were sold to a scrap metal yard for $30 to $40 a piece, according to the State Fire Marshal's Office.  The removal of these meters reduces the water pressure available to firefighters putting out blazes.

Plantation officials became involved after they obtained a surveillance tape from a local store there showing a man allegedly removing a backflow meter. We at Backflow Theft Prevention not only will replace your stolen bypass meter's at a lower cost than other companies charge, but we also Lock It Up!


Vandals steal $10,500 worth of copper, fire hydrants and more

Vandals have stolen more than $10,500 worth of fire hydrants, brass valves and copper wiring from Yucaipa Valley Water District during the past six months, according to district officials. These thefts, when combined with the labor costs involved in replacing the stolen equipment, could cost the district's customers as much as $15,000. These thefts affect everyone because we have to pass the costs of replacing these materials and equipment to our customers, said Charlie Bailey, the district's operations manager.

As a result, we are calling on all of our customers to contact the police and the district whenever they observe suspicious activity involving fire hydrants, valves and other installations by individuals who are not wearing district uniforms or who do not have a YVWD repair truck nearby. Recent thefts, which are apparently driven by the rising cost of brass and copper, include fire hydrants and brass backflow valve covers in downtown and residential areas as well as copper wiring from gated district installations. The fire hydrants alone cost more than $1,000 a piece. I only know of two fire hydrants being stolen from the district in the past 33 years, Bailey said.But we've had nine fire hydrants stolen in the past six months alone. This is clearly happening because of the significant increase in brass and copper scrap values.
Murrieta Police Department Press Release
Incident Summary

During the Month of November approximately 30 Back Flow water valves were stolen from businesses along the Jefferson Ave. and Adams Ave business district. The Suspect would break the back flow valve from the business causing a geyser of water to flow from the business until being detected by a passerby. Many of the businesses were forced to be without running water until the valve could be replaced.
On Novemeber 19, 2007 at 1000 hours, Riverside Sheriff Detective Cornett from the Perris Station, received a call of a subject attempting to recycle 14 back flow valves at a recycling plant in Perris. Detective Cornett was aware of the recent back flow valve thefts from the City of Murrieta. Detective Cornett responded and detained 23 year old William Franklin Harris Jr. A check of the serial number on one of the back flow valves returned as being stolen from a business in Murrieta on 11/20/2007.
Detective Matt Haddad and Robert Anderson responded to the Perris Station to investigate if Suspect Harris was the person responsible for the recent rash of valve thefts from Murrieta businesses. Detective Haddad found that 8 of the 14 valves Suspect Harris was attempting to recycle, were stolen from Murrieta Businesses located off of Jefferson Ave. Suspect Harris was taken to the Murrieta Police Department were he was interviewed and admitted to stealing 20 back flow valves in Murrieta dating back to the beginning of November. William Harris Jr. was arrested and charged with Grand Theft. Harris was also found to be on Formal Probation for a previous drug offense and additionally charged with Violating Probation.
High metal prices make water meters a choice target for thieves

High prices on copper and brass are sparking a local crime spree as would-be metal merchants rip off water meters and backflow devices. Over the weekend Valley Center Municipal Water District customers at several locations were the victims of meter and backflow device theft. On Saturday VC Community Hall was hit. A 3/4 inch meter and a 3/4 inch backflow device were stolen. Parks and Rec. District Gen. Mgr. Doug Johnsen Monday confirmed the theft. “'93It was stolen probably late Friday or early Saturday,”'94 said Johnsen. “'93Someone at the fire department heard cars riding around in a big puddle next to the community hall.”'94 Firefighters came over and shut the water off and then called Johnsen, who arrived shortly, inspected the damage and called the water district. Several thousand gallons of water were lost before the valve was shut off. The devices weren’'92t very deep in the ground. “'93They took the valve box off and just yanked it out of the ground. It looked like they grabbed on with a chain,”'94 Johnsen said. In recent days five backflow devices, five meters, one double check and one construction meter have been taken from properties within the district. At this writing the stolen metal was valued at $4,619.72. Some speculate that these thefts are tied to U.S. metal shortages, particularly in copper and copper alloys such as brass. This, in turn, is being exacerbated by rising metal consumption in China. As the shortage continues, the price of metal rises. Water district Gen. Mgr. Gary Arant told The Roadrunner, “'93We will be alerting the local salvage yards to look for meters and backflow devices and not take them unless they check with us. Each unit has a serial number which can be checked. Hopefully this will stem the US activity, but there is always the possibility that these things could be taken [out of the the country.]”'94 Operations Manager Greg Hoyle explained that the price of copper and brass has gone up and that thieves have been known to show up at local recyclers to try to sell the metal. Last year fire hydrant caps were also popular for thieves. According to the district, brass water meters, and other parts associated with public water supply are routinely stolen. Gen. Mgr. Gary Broomell said, “'93This is not just an issue of receiving stolen property as it deals with tampering with the public water supply. All cases will be forwarded to the District Attorney for prosecution. Meters and backflow devices are not cheap to replace, each costing several hundred dollars. The district will replace the meters, but the customers will have to replace the backflow devices.
Backflow Preventer Thefts costing businesses thousands
Thursday, February 8, 2007

Recently there has been a rash of commercial irrigation and domestic water backflow preventers stolen for their scrap metal. While the scrap metal value for the brass and copper contained within these fittings is only about $250, brazen thieves are making short work of stealing as many as they can, sometimes twice from the same properties. Backflow preventers are easily recognized, usually placed above ground along the street frontage for most commercial properties. The U-shaped pipe acts as a valve to prevent irrigation or other water from "backflowing" into the potable water source for the building. Most jurisdictions in the county have mandated the use of these valves in commercial buildings. The thieves drive up, sometimes dressed in orange vests to look like city employees, take a saw and cut the valve off at the pipes. The whole process can take less than two minutes. These thefts have occurred in broad daylight and also have happened at prominent and visible locations. Replacing these backflows can cost as much as $3,000 to $6,000. Their removal by thieves will also interrupt water service for your property and tenants as well as the possible water damage created from the water running uncontrolled through the open connection. BOMA is working with local authorities and the recycling/scrap metal industry to stem the tide of these thefts. BOMA has already met with the local waste industry association to brainstorm ways to notify the public about these thefts in an effort to prevent them in the future.
.How to protect your building
Although there is no perfect solution to eliminate the theft of the units, and, in fact, those who have taken the measures outlined below have still experienced the loss of the valves, the following actions are being recommended by law enforcement, landscapers and plumbers:
* Enclose your backflow valve(s) with a protective cage (if you haven't already).
* Secure it with a non-tamperproof lock (a breakaway lock is easily opened and not recommended). In case of emergency, your maintenance crew should have a copy of the lock's key.
* The cage should be securely mounted to the ground.
* Have the cage spot-welded to the bolts to prevent its removal.
* Stamp, label or identify the metal with a recognizable code or name of your own.
* Paint the unit(s) with brightly colored paint.
* Post a visible warning sign with something to the effect of: "Theft and damage to this unit will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
* Camouflage the unit by planting screening landscape a foot or so from the backflow. This will make the unit less visible while still allowing for maintenance access if needed.
* Inform your onsite building management, security or other staff of the problem and make sure they keep an eye out for thieves. It is also a good idea to inform your tenants so they can contact you should they see something suspicious near these valves.
BOMA will continue to monitor the issue and pursue actions to curb thefts and catch the criminals stealing these valves.

Thieves Steal Water Devices From Apartments
28 Backflow Preventers Stolen In Past 2 Weeks

LAUDERHILL, Fla. -- Police in Lauderhill and neighboring Lauderdale Lakes said there have been more than two dozen thefts of devices used to direct the flow of water from city pipes into apartment buildings.
A total of 28 backflow preventers have been stolen from apartment complexes during the past two weeks, including eight taken from various apartments in Lauderhill during the night Tuesday.
Without the devices, residents are left without water in their buildings. It also causes flooding around the pipe.
Police are unsure how the devices are being removed, but they do have a few ideas as to why.
"Two theories: One, they could be reselling the preventers for plumbing, maybe new construction or retrofitting, whatever projects they might be working on, but more than likely they're probably selling the metal because they're made of copper," said Lauderhill police Lt. Rick Rocco.
The cost to replace the backflow preventers is between $800.00 & $1,100.00