Stolen water valves causing problems for businesses

September 28, 2011 4:50:33 PM PDT
Thieves are after some precious water valves and they're grabbing them for the metal. The thefts are causing water problems for several places in The Woodlands area including a fire station.

This is not the only location in The Woodlands where backflow prevention valves have been stolen and now have to be replaced. Law enforcement says they've had at least seven thefts in the last two days.

After thieves struck there on Monday, water was shooting feet into the air.

"Oh yeah, it was like a geyser out here," said Lisa Traitor with Lisa's Barbershop.

Authorities say someone ripped off a valve at businesses on and near Woodlands Parkway and FM 2978, including a day care center.

"Apparently, they are taking two bats to vandalize the system and get the backflow," said Erin McDowell with Stepping Stones Child Care.

And even a fire station where a crew of six was inside and heard the thieves, but couldn't get outside to catch them before they fled.

"It's gonna be about a $2,000 repair to the facility," said Deputy Chief Jerry Bittner with the Woodlands Fire Department.

The backflow preventers protect water supplies from contamination. It's that valve, usually made of brass, which cracks from the water still inside it during a freeze. The thefts meant no water temporarily at each location.

Most of the day Tuesday there was no water in this strip center which includes a Memorial Hermann ER Clinic where water was brought in from elsewhere. This dentist's office had to turn five patients away. The day care was able to get a plumber out before school on Wednesday morning. Had they not, they say they would've had to close for the day.

"It's very frustrating. This could have put us out of business for an entire day and probably have to refund all of our families for a day of care," said McDowell.

Investigators are still working on identifying suspects. It's unclear if there is any surveillance video of the thieves in action.


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