In response to the recent theft of 16 fire hydrants in northwest Redlands, city officials are touting a bill that would make it a crime for junk dealers to trade in fire hydrants, manhole covers and above-ground plumbing fixtures known as backflow devices.
The fire hydrants were stolen between the evening of Sept. 11 and early morning Sept. 12, on West Lugonia Avenue, Research Drive, Almond Avenue and Bryn Mawr Avenue, a city spokesman said Monday.
Two bills introduced this year by State Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, are intended to make it easier to prosecute metal theft, Redlands spokesman Carl Baker said.
"Senate Bill 1387 would make it a crime for junk dealers or recyclers to possess fire hydrants, manhole covers or municipal backflow devices without a written certification from the agency or utility that owned the material," Baker said.
Junk dealers found possessing any of the items without written certification would be subject to fines up to $3,000, Baker said.
"Senate Bill 1045 would help recover agency and utility costs, holding junk dealers and recyclers civilly liable for the damages incurred due to metal theft, including repair and replacement costs," Baker said.
Both bills are awaiting signature by Gov. Jerry Brown, Baker said.
"Metal theft is still a problem throughout California as the price of metal continues to climb," Emmerson said when he introduced the bills earlier this year. "Not only does it cause damage to both public and private property, it can also seriously threaten public health and safety."
Emmerson currently serves in the 37th State Senate District, and he is running for re-election in November in the newly-created 23rd District that includes Redlands and Loma Linda. A pdf map of the 23rd District is attached to this report.
The estimated cost of replacing the stolen Redlands hydrants will be $40,000, according to city Municipal Utilities and Engineering Department staff.
"Even greater than the financial burden may be the public safety risk the thefts represent," Baker said Monday. "Because of the lack of water to fight fires and the large area affected, the ability to suppress fires in the area has been severely reduced, causing a significant risk to lives and property."
Baker urged the public to call police dispatch at (909) 798-7681 or 911 any time they see anyone other than a uniformed firefighter or city employee working on a fire hydrant, manhole or backflow device, especially at night.
Anonymous tips can be provided by texting 274637 using the keyword "REDTIP."