As more and more people learn about the value of scrap metal, backflow preventers have become hot items for thieves all around the United States. Thieves will remove the backflow preventers when no one is around so they can bring in the devices to scrap metal shops for the brass in the preventers. Unfortunately, this problem can cause a significant amount of monetary and plumbing damage to the victims. Fortunately, there are ways to keep thieves away from your important plumbing fixtures.
Valuable Backflow Preventers
Since backflow preventers are made of brass and copper, they are valuable for the metal they offer. In some communities, it is common to see thefts in businesses that are undergoing renovations or in homes that may be abandoned. Along with backflow preventers, metal scrappers are also looking for bypass meter assemblies and irrigation valves, too. The increasing prices of both copper and brass make the risk worthwhile for the thieves who target those devices.
Education Creates Prevention
It is important that business owners and property management companies are aware of this type of theft so they can protect themselves and their properties from the thieves. Local police departments also need to be aware of this problem so they can add patrol routes to areas that are susceptible to theft. When these important exterior plumbing devices are removed from properties, it can cost thousands of dollars in repairs for insurance companies and property owners. This occurs because people can earn between $100 and $250 for a scrap backflow preventer. When backflow preventers and other exterior plumbing devices are stolen, businesses usually need to close down to have the repairs made. This costs businesses even more money on top of the expenses to repair the damage.
Recyclers Need to Know
Recyclers also need to be aware of the fact that many backflow preventers are often stolen. If recyclers stop accepting these, then thieves will no longer try to steal them and turn them in for cash. Recyclers need to learn to recognize what a backflow preventer looks like. They are U-shaped pipes that are designed to prevent water that is used for sprinkling and yard work from going back into the water that is meant for drinking. Unfortunately, these backflow preventers are usually placed along the frontage of the building, so they are easy to find and rather easy to steal. Commercial building codes all over the United States have mandated that these be installed, so the preventers are everywhere.
Typical Theft Situations
When a thief targets a backflow preventer or other plumbing, they will usually try to look like they are local government employees. They will look like they are checking out the plumbing, but in reality they use a saw and remove the valve at the pipes. It usually takes about two minutes to complete the theft. If your valve is stolen, your water service will be interrupted until the valve is replaced. Water will also run through the connection and make a mess in the yard. Unfortunately, the general public has no idea about this common theft.
Preventing Theft with Cages
There are ways to prevent this theft from occurring at your property. The prevention ideas have been created by plumbers, local police departments, and landscapers. One of the best ways to prevent theft is to put your backflow preventer in a protective cage. There are several companies that sell these. The cage should have a strong lock that cannot be broken off the cage, but let your maintenance department have a key to the lock. The cage needs to be secured to the ground and spot-welding should be used to secure the bolts on the cage. You can ask your plumber to put the name of your business on the backflow preventer. It is important to mark the cage with a warning about prosecuting thieves. Many businesses have decided to use landscaping to cover the backflow cage, so make it more difficult to find. It is also helpful to let your employees, tenants, and maintenance department to let you know if they see anything suspicious. When it comes to preventing theft, knowledge is power.
If you have any questions about preventing backflow theft, call Scott English Plumbing and we will help.