Water Theft Occurred Multiple Times This Summer in Shelter Cove, Says Manager

The Shelter Cove RID manager said that hoses coming from a creek were illegally filling this tank. [Photo provided by Philip Young.]

In order to steal the 146,802 gallons of water reported taken from a Shelter Cove vacation residence recently, a thief would have had to turn the water tap “full open 12 hours a day for 30 days,” said Philip Young, general manager of Shelter Cove’s Resort Improvement District [RID].  The alleged theft which occurred between July 29 and August 29 appears to have occurred at a faucet outside the home.  

“There was no malfunction in the water meter,” said Young. His staff did not see an indication that the waterline had split open either. “The only thing we could see was a beaten path to the water spigot.”

This wasn’t the only water theft in Shelter Cove this season, said Young. “We received reports throughout the summer.” The RID manager said that residents who lived and walked near Telegraph Creek (a stream where the District gets water) reported two sites were pumping directly from the waterway. Young said at least one of the sites was drawing from the creek twice a day using a generator and submersible pump. According to Young, the water was used in a marijuana garden. He says he contacted law enforcement for assistance and one “site got raided last week.”

“Water thefts are a considerable concern,” he said, “especially the thefts from the creek.”

Water taken from the residence and from properties near the creek are only one aspect of the problem. Young explained,  “The biggest threat to…our water system is the pickups with 300 to 400 gallon tanks in the back of their trucks. They start moving around dusk. You can’t follow the truck obviously. There is no way to see if they are going to a residence where people are allowing them to take water or if they are going to the creek or a fire hydrant.”

Young said they’ve tried to catch the thieves in the act. “We’ve put up game cameras in those areas–in the creek areas and also the fire hydrants–where we received word they were being tampered with.” Once the cameras are up, the thieves stop coming, he said. But, he explained, “the camera being there is a theft deterrent. We’d like to catch them but stopping them is the first priority.”

Young believes that the allegedly stolen water in these cases is used for growing marijuana, too. If this is so, the cost of the amount of water they are stealing, he said, isn’t going to have a significant amount of impact on their bottom line. Stealing water, he said, “de-legitimizes their business. The people who steal the water imperil the growing community.” This, he said, is too bad. “We rely on the growing community  A lot of them are extremely good contributing members of society.”

RID is offering a $1000 reward for info leading to the arrest and conviction of people taking water illegally. 

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