Water thieves hit fire hydrants in Lemoore

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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A community is dealing with what it appears to be water theft from their fire hydrants.

LEMOORE, Calif. (KFSN) -- A community is dealing with what it appears to be water theft from their fire hydrants.

The city of Lemoore says the water thefts come at a time when residents are already under strict guidelines to conserve.

City officials say the hydrants have been left with their caps off. Once, someone even left evidence behind that they had been taking the water illegally.

Lemoore Public Works Director Dave Wlaschin said, "There was a hydrant that had a hose on it and whoever was there left the hose."

Officials say the thefts are serious. The city's water table is already low and residents are under strict orders to conserve.

"If you're in a desperate need you have to bath and cook for your kids and I just can't imagine being in that situation," said Lemoore resident Christie Campos. "So, it must be a pretty desperate situation to have to steal water of all things."

Wlaschin isn't sure all of the thefts are for personal use. Although, city officials say they've been contacted by several people living in rural areas -- asking if they could buy some of Lemoore's water. The city has a strict policy that doesn't allow that, so they don't ever run out of water for people in town. Wlaschin says he's seen people who fill up large tanks, and then go to drought-stricken communities to sell the water.

"We're concerned about we've kind of been on an active alert for those types of things," said Wlaschin. "Ground water supplies being what they are and surface water an even greater problem."

Officials say they're being cautious. The last thing they want is a hydrant to be damaged, or worse, break and have precious water spilling out onto the street.