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.
Replacing the meters can cost about $1,500 to $2,000.