News headline from the Redlands Police Department:
Theft of more than a dozen fire hydrants from northwest Redlands created a serious public safety threat last week and will cost the city tens of thousands of dollars in replacement and repairs.
Sometime between the evening of September 11 and early morning of September 12, thieves stole 16 fire hydrants along West Lugonia Avenue, Research Drive, Almond Avenue and Bryn Mawr Avenue in the northwest part of Redlands. Staff from the Redlands Municipal Utilities and Engineering Department estimate the cost in labor and material to replace the 16 stolen hydrants at approximately $40,000. The City is currently working with a contractor to order and install replacement hydrants.
Even greater than the financial burden may be the public safety risk the thefts represent. Because of the lack of water to fight fires and the large area affected, the ability to suppress fires in the area has been severely reduced, causing a significant risk to lives and property.
Thefts of hydrants, manhole covers and backflow devices has plagued a number of cities, counties and other government agencies as the price of scrap metal continues to rise.
Two bills introduced this year by State Sen. Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet) and currently awaiting signature by Gov. Jerry Brown are intended to make it easier to prosecute metal theft.
Senate Bill 1387 would make it a crime for junk dealers or recyclers to possess fire hydrants, manhole covers or municipal backflow devices without a written certification from the agency or utility that owned the material. Junk dealers found possessing any of the items without written certification would be subject to a fine of up to $3,000.
Senate Bill 1045 would help recover agency and utility costs, holding junk dealers and recyclers civilly liable for the damages incurred due to metal theft, including repair and replacement costs.
“Metal theft is still a problem throughout California as the price of metal continues to climb,” Emmerson said in introducing the bills earlier this year. “Not only does it cause damage to both public and private property, it can also seriously threaten public health and safety.”
The public is encouraged to call police or dial 911 any time they see anyone other than a uniformed firefighter or City employee working on a fire hydrant, manhole or backflow device, especially at night.
Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Redlands Police Dispatch at (909) 798-7681. Anonymous tips can be provided by texting 274637 using the keyword “REDTIP.” Certain non-emergency crimes may also be reported online using the Redlands Police Department’s CopLogic reporting system at http://ci.redlands.ca.us/police/coplogic/start-report.html
Filed under Headline
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
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