STOCKTON (CBS13) —  Metal thieves waste gallons of water Monday morning outside of Big Valley Thrift after stripping the back flow preventor pipe.

Many private companies and homeowners have their own back flow regulators that vary in size. Thieves look at the above ground pipes as a potential opportunity for scrap metal.

Big Valley Thrift still had puddles in its parking lot at noon.

“Those are the dumb ones, because the dumb ones make a hell of a mess,” said All Fire Protection Service contractor Frank Vetter, who said he has repaired eight this year.

“The smart ones they actually go up and shut the valves off so they don’t get wet.”

Back flow pipes are used to keep a property’s used water from going into the city’s treated water supply. Vetter said replacement parts are not easy to come by and Stockton thieves are pretty bold.

“They’ve gotten into the pump house and striped it,” said Vetter of one system operator in the city. Repairs are often expensive. “He’s looking anywhere to from $60 to $80 thousand dollars.”

The metal thieves, however, are only making an average of $25 off the back flow pipe brass.

“You’re going to have to put a cage around them to stop it,” said Vetter, but added it’s still important for city and fire crews to quickly get to the back flow pipes if there is a leak.


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