News Feature | August 11, 2017

Failure To Prosecute Alleged Water Theft Sparks Criticism In NJ

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

burglar reg new

A city in New Jersey is facing criticism for failing to prosecute a small-scale water heist allegedly carried out last year.

“A police report from 2016 is prompting allegations that a prominent company in Bayonne stole water from a hydrant — roughly $58 worth. And one city resident wants to know why the company has not been taken to court over the water,” The Jersey Journal reported.

The resident in question is Peter Franco, a civically-engaged local. Franco provided the police report to the newspaper.

In the police report, an officer reportedly describes an instance of water theft on a company's property. Bayonne Law Director John "Jay" Coffey II told The Jersey Journal that the case was not pursued because there was not enough evidence.

Instances of water theft, large and small, are a drain on utilities across the country. It is part of the problem of non-revenue water, a bigger issue including leaks which costs water stakeholders $141 billion per year, according to a report by the World Bank.

“Within North America, an estimated eight percent of non-revenue water is the result of theft. That can put a significant strain on both you and your community’s resources,” according to Sensus, a Xylem brand.

During the California drought, water became the subject of "black market dealings," according to PBS News.

“In one instance, thousands of gallons of water were stolen from a fire station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains — a station that provides protection to the surrounding community and forest from wildfires. In fact, the discovery came at the peak of wildfire season, worrying officials and community members about the dangerous implications of such thefts,” the report said.

“In some counties and communities, local authorities have set up hotlines and patrols in an attempt to prevent water theft. Punishments vary, but often range from mere misdemeanor charges to fines of $25. Even still, it is difficult to identify thieves without catching them in the act,” the report continued.

To read more about curbing water theft visit Water Online’s Solutions And Insight For Water Loss Prevention.

Image credit: "cat burglar," incase © 2010, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/