REDLANDS – Sixteen fire hydrants were reported stolen on the north side of the city, an act that will cost the city thousands of dollars.
“It could also pose a threat to public safety,” said city information officer Carl Baker. The thefts, said Baker, occurred between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning on West Lugonia Ave., Research Dr., Almond Ave. and Bryn Mawr Ave., Baker said in a release.
Theft of the hydrants are likely related to thefts of manhole covers and backflow devices that have started to disappear as the price for scrap metal rises. Baker said staff estimates that the city will bear the cost of $40,000 to repair the missing hydrants. Costs include labor and materials needed. The city is working with a contractor to replace the hydrants.
Baker said hopes are that publicizing the thefts may lead to tips over suspicious activity around any hydrant. “Even greater than the financial burden may be the public safety risk the thefts represent ” said Baker. “ Because of the lack of water to fight fires and the large area affected, the ability to suppress fires in the area has been severely reduced, causing a significant risk to lives and property.” There are alternate ways to fight fires, according to officials.
Baker related two state legislative bills that were introduced that would make it a crime for junk dealers or recyclers to possess hydrants, manhole covers or backflow devices without a written certificate from an agency or utility that owned the material.
Press-Enterprise: REDLANDS: 16 fire hydrants stolen in 1 night
Los Angeles Times: Thieves steal 16 fire hydrants from Redlands streets
Redlands-LomaLinda Patch: 16 Fire Hydrants Stolen in Northwest Redlands, Estimate $40,000 to Replace
Obrey "Lee" Brown has worked for 10 newspapers and magazines in the Bay Area, central and southern California. In 2005, he wrote "A Citrus Test: Football in Black & White." He can be reached at baseballOLB@hotmail.com.