Vandals have stolen more than $10,500 worth of fire hydrants, brass valves and copper wiring from Yucaipa Valley Water District during the past six months, according to district officials. These thefts, when combined with the labor costs involved in replacing the stolen equipment, could cost the district’s customers as much as $15,000. “These thefts affect everyone because we have to pass the costs of replacing these materials and equipment to our customers,” said Charlie Bailey, the district’s operations manager.
“As a result, we are calling on all of our customers to contact the police and the district whenever they observe suspicious activity involving fire hydrants, valves and other installations by individuals who are not wearing district uniforms or who do not have a YVWD repair truck nearby. ”Recent thefts, which are apparently driven by the rising cost of brass and copper, include fire hydrants and brass backflow valve covers in downtown and residential areas as well as copper wiring from gated district installations. The fire hydrants alone cost more than $1,000 a piece. “I only know of two fire hydrants being stolen from the district in the past 33 years,” Bailey said. “But we’ve had nine fire hydrants stolen in the past six months alone. This is clearly happening because of the significant increase in brass and copper scrap values.”