Thieves target water valves in Bermuda Dunes
"You know it's not fair, as a homeowner you pay good money for the house and you turn around and things are getting ripped off in the middle of the night," said Pat Keller, a resident of Aerodrome Avenue in Bermuda Dunes.
Keller and many of her neighbors are outraged. In recent weeks many woke up to find the backflow water valves in their yards stolen.
"I can't even sleep soundly in the middle of the night, my dog barks, and I'm out looking," Keller said.
Rock is the most recent homeowner to fall victim. Two weeks ago thieves struck around 4:30 a.m.
"Saw the valve gone, water was spurting in the air and we had no water in the house," Rock said.
He purchased a replacement backflow valve at his own expense. The cost: $700.
Sheriff's deputies say thieves steal the valves to later sell them as scrap metal at local recycling centers.
"They can make anywhere from $50 to $100, and the victim, it costs them up to $3000 worth of damage or even more," said Deputy Julio Oseguera of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
Some residents are taking measures to prevent this from happening to them by installing cages, like this, over their backflow valves.
"If this cage protects the valve for now at least I can sleep another hour or so," Keller said.
Police haven't arrested any suspects yet, but people in the neighborhood are confident they will. One homeowner had this camera installed in clear view of where Rock's valve was stolen and police say that's one of the best deterrents for this kind of crime.
"They can go ahead and place a video surveillance around their residence or business," Oseguera said.
Police also recommend people to etch their name into the valve. Thieves are less likely to steal property marked as someone else's and turn it into recycling centers.
Copyright 2013 Gulf California Broadcasting. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.