Garden Grove officials are asking for the public’s help in stopping thieves who've been snatching manhole covers and other hefty booty as the price of scrap metal goes up.
Metal theft has been happening all across the country and California. Last week, five fire hydrants were stolen in Modesto. The week before, 16 were pilfered during a single night in Redlands.
“If they’re getting that brazen where they’re dissembling fire hydrants in front of everyone, we need help,” said David Entsminger, Garden Grove's Director of Public Works.
His city hasn’t seen any hydrant thefts yet, but it has been hit by manhole cover thieves. More troubling, say Garden Grove officials, is the theft of more than 100 backflow devices.
Each device costs about $2,000 each to replace. But aside from the cost, Entsminger is concerned about public safety because the whole point of a backflow device is to protect drinking water from contamination.
“You have backflow devices that separate the public water supply system from a chemical plant or a plant that polishes metal,” explained Entsminger. “If something gets back into the water supply system, you have a toxic situation.”
Entsminger is asking the public to call the Garden Grove Public Works Department - or 911 - and report anything suspicious.
He’s getting help from Sacramento, where Governor Jerry Brown just signed legislation making junk dealers and recyclers liable for damages if they buy fire hydrants, manhole covers or backflow prevention devices without written certification.