OVIEDO, Fla. — Oviedo police arrested two men accused of stealing dozens of back-flow valves, which protect drinking water from contamination.
According to investigators, nearly 80 of the back-flow valves have disappeared in Orange and Seminole counties since April.
One victim gave Oviedo police surveillance video, which shows a man loading one of the devices into the back of gold Ford Ranger.
“So our detectives and detectives from Seminole County and Orange County and other agencies began to work together,” said Lt. Mike Beavers of the Oviedo Police Department.
Detectives said they linked the truck to Robert Kalinowski.
According to investigators, earlier this month they followed Kalinowski and Robert Strohaker to a Longwood business.
Investigators say Strohaker didn’t turn off the water before he used an axe to chop the back-flow valve off a plastic pipe.
Officers said Kalinowski and Strohaker would get $20-$40 for the brass scrap metal, but the damage can cost victims up to $500.
To ensure water quality, Seminole County has been fining people for not having proper back-flow valves.
Fortunately, thanks to surveillance video and the help of several agencies detectives were able to make arrests.
“I guess when you are desperate for money and it’s worked for you in the past, you continue to do it,” said Beavers.
Police said they have already tied Kalinowski to nearly 20 of 28 reported back-flow valve thefts in Oviedo.