Thieves steal Long Beach fire hydrants

LONG BEACH, Calif. Officials say the thieves seem to know what they are doing since they know how to turn off the valves. Water officials also say they must have heavy equipment to pull off this theft.

The Long Beach Water Department believes the thefts started on July 24. Since then, seven of them have been stolen right off their foundations.

However, some may wonder why anyone would want to steal a fire hydrant.

"We're speculating that it has to do with the price of metal," said Ryan Alsop, Long Beach Water Department.

The thieves are only after the new hydrants, which are made of solid brass. They are worth much more than the older, cast iron variety.

"While that gets them a little bit of money from scrap dealers willing to accept stolen property, it really costs us, and the customers here in Long Beach, a great deal more," said Alsop.

The Long Beach Water Department estimates that it costs anywhere from $1,300 to $1,800 to replace each one.

"It's irritating to have to go around and replace these hydrants and replace manhole covers when we have better things to be doing," said Alsop. "We're a fairly lean organization as it is and this is something we don't want to be dealing with right now."

The city's water department had to replace about 100 manhole covers after someone stole them this past spring. Those cast-iron covers were stolen from the same area where the hydrants have now been taken.

"We want the word out. We're very, very aggressive on trying to catch these thieves. And when we do, we're going to throw the book at them," said Alsop.


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