Metal Thieves Target Fire Hydrants In Cash-Strapped Modesto

MODESTO (KCBS) – It’s believed that metal thieves are looking at a new source of possible income in Modesto – fire hydrants.

Crews worked on Thursday to replace five fire hydrants that were discovered missing last week. Dave Savage, Modesto’s acting water division director, said the thieves are obviously well aware of how hydrants work.

“They had to turn off the valve in the street so they had to have a four-to-five foot long gate key,” said Savage. “And they shut off the valve in the street and then they unbolt the hydrant and take off.”

Savage said that if the thieves are in fact looking to sell the cast iron scraps from the hydrants to recyclers, they likely would only fetch $750-800 for each one. It could cost the city as much as $4,000 to replace each hydrant.

Not only is the crime not that lucrative, but Savage said it is dangerous for the safety of Modesto residents.

“They’re sacrificing the safety of our public. People’s homes could be burning, there could be a car fire or a brush fire. Someone could get hurt out of this and it’s really not accomplishing much,” he said.

Anyone with information related to the stolen fire hydrants is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. The city of Modesto water division said that residents can report vandalized or stolen hydrants by calling (209) 342-2246.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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