Thieves are now targeting fire hydrants across Los Angeles County

Eric Resendiz Image
Tuesday, June 4, 2024
Fire hydrant thefts on the rise in Los Angeles County
According to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, about 100 hydrants have been stolen this year.

Thieves are stealing fire hydrants in Los Angeles County, a crime that some say could put those communities at risk in an emergency.

According to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, about 100 hydrants have been stolen this year.

Krystal Cousins lives between two fire hydrants in the Florence-Firestone area. She says both of them were stolen on Thursday, leaving residents upset.

"Why are you taking them? And then come to find out they're only getting about $100 off of them. So OK, you're making quick money but you're putting so many people in danger," she said.

"It's sad because they don't realize the damage that they're doing," said resident Juan Vega.

The hydrants are owned by Golden State Water Company. The company says 302 of them have been stolen in the south side of L.A. County, from Huntington Park to Gardena, between the beginning of 2023 and last month.

"The theft rate is alarming and getting worse. GSWC is taking serious steps to mitigate the problem by installing locks and working with local fire and law enforcement authorities. GSWC has also written letters to local scrap yards reminding them that receiving stolen hydrants is a federal offense," the company said in a statement.

Cousins says only one fire hydrant was replaced on Monday and she's waiting on the other to be replaced.

"Having no fire hydrant on the street is a whole lawsuit right there if something were to go up in flames. People do fireworks all night over here. Just one ember would take us all out," she added.

It could be that the thieves are stealing them for scrap metal, but the sheriff's department has not officially said why they're being stolen.

The Golden State Water Company says the direct financial impact of the thefts amounts to over $1.2 million. Crews have replaced some of the stolen hydrants and added a lock to the base.

The L.A. County Fire Department says it poses a threat to public safety.

"The Los Angeles County Fire Department is aware and concerned about the recent theft of fire hydrants affecting multiple jurisdictions throughout Los Angeles County. The theft of fire hydrants poses a threat to public safety as it hampers the fire department's ability to quickly respond to fires and protect lives and property. Fire hydrants are crucial in providing a reliable water source for firefighting operations, and their absence can hamper rescue efforts and lead to delays extinguishing fires. We urge everyone in the community to remain vigilant and call 9-1-1 or notify their local law enforcement agency with any information regarding the theft of fire hydrants," the department said in a statement.

"Don't steal. Don't steal. Go do something else more productive, don't steal fire hydrants," Cousins said.

Anyone with information about the stolen fire hydrants is urged to contact the sheriff's department.