News Feature | January 24, 2018

Trio Allegedly Burglarizes Houston Water Plant

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

burglar reg new

A water treatment plant in Houston was allegedly burglarized this month in an act that was caught on video.

“Crime Stoppers and the Houston Police Department’s Burglary and Theft Division need the public’s assistance identifying the suspects responsible for breaking into a City of Houston water treatment plant and joyriding in one of the vehicles on the property,” CW39 reported.

“According to police, three suspects burglarized the plant in the 15500 block of Cotillion Drive around 6 p.m. on December 6. Police said the suspects broke into the office building on the property, took the keys to a City of Houston pickup truck and a cell phone,” the report said.

All the men involved with the incident appeared to be between ages 17 and 20, according to the report. Cell phone video revealed what happened during the burglary.

“One suspect drove the pickup around the premises, while the other two suspects appeared to take video in the bed of the truck with their cell phones. The suspects then fled the location on foot, leaving behind the pickup truck and SIM card of the cell phone they had stolen,” the report said, citing police.

In other crime news on the water beat, the Minnesota Attorney General’s office is warning about the threat of a water utility scam. Here’s how to scam works, per the office:

A person or organization receives a call from someone who claims to represent the utility company. Most often, the individual claims the person or organization is behind on their bill and threatens to shut down the power [or water] soon if the money is not paid. The scam artists usually ask people to pay the “balance” via prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The scam artist may try to create a sense of urgency to prevent the person or business from verifying the legitimacy of the call.

Water utilities have been on high alert in recent years to prevent their customers from getting scammed.

For instance, several years ago in Hillsboro, OR, police warned "the public to be safe and be aware of activity by utility worker impostors. Police [had] received a report of two male suspects who gained access to a water customer's residence by posing as employees," The Oregonian reported.

To read more about utility security issues visit Water Online’s Resiliency Solutions Center.

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