PALM DESERT – Several strip malls in Palm Desert and Indian Wells have been hit by metal plumbing thefts recently, especially.

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KMIR6 first reported Sunday about 10 businesses hit at Desert Crossing in Palm Desert. Most of the business owners had no water until Monday like La Bella Cucina.

“It was a nightmare. You sit there and do everything you can to have a successful business and then you have these hoodlums that have nothing better to do than steal things that don’t belong to them,” said the General Manager of La Bella Cucina, Elena Riccio.

Her restaurant is closed on Sunday, so she didn’t lose customers, but had to pay for the repairs.

“A lot of our equipment works by cooling off on water, so those were shut off. We had to pay for labor. We had to pay for the plumber,” said Riccio.

Next door to the restaurant is Best City Nails, which did have to close the entire day. The manager of the salon said they lost about $2,000 in business and in cost of the repairs.

To Riccio, these water pipe thefts appear to be done professionally.

“What it looks like is they go down and shut all the water mains off and then they go back and they start pulling all [pipes]. I mean, it’s the cleanest job I’ve ever seen. When I walked up to look at it, there’s just two holes where it was, so they know what they’re doing,” explained Riccio.

The Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) replaced all of the stolen brass water pipes at Desert Crossing. Then this morning, they got another call in Indian Wells Village, next to OneWest Bank, after a brass pipe was stolen there.

“We have seen an uptick recently, just in the last three weeks, we’ve had 50 backflow devices stolen,” said the CVWD Director of Communications, Heather Engel.

To prevent any more thefts, CVWD installs a lock mechanism when it replaces the blackflows. Engel added that all these repairs costs the district about $500 each time.

“It’s something that should be invested in because it will save everybody a lot of money,” said Riccio.

Palm Desert Police are investigating the metal pipe thefts at Desert Crossing. At this time, it’s unknown if these were related to the one in Indian Wells Village.

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