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Thieves steal 16 fire hydrants from Redlands streets

September 17, 2012 |  2:06 pm

The Redlands Police Department is looking for the thieves who stole 16 fire hydrants valued at about $40,000.

Police believe the thefts occurred the evening of Sept. 11 or the early morning of Sept. 12 in northwest Redlands along Research Drive, West Lugonia, Almond and Bryn Mawr avenues.

Department spokesman Carl Baker said the public safety risk is an even greater blow than the financial loss. Without the hydrants, he said, the ability to fight fires has temporarily dropped and there is a risk to neighbors and their property.

The city is working with a contractor to replace the hydrants at a cost of about $40,000. Thieves probably stole the hydrants for scrap metal money, Baker said.

Scrap metal theft has become a larger concern in the state, and two bills awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown's signature would make it easier to prosecute metal thefts.

SB 1387 would make it a crime for junk dealers or recyclers to possess fire hydrants, manhole covers or other property without permission from the owner. And junk dealers caught with those items could be fined.

SB 1045 would help recover agency and utility costs and would hold junk dealers and recyclers liable for the damages, including repair and replacement costs.

“Metal theft is still a problem throughout California as the price of metal continues to climb,” said State Sen. Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet), who introduced both bills.

The public is asked to call police whenever they see anyone other than a uniformed firefighter or city employee working on a fire hydrant, manhole or backflow device, especially at night.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Redlands police at (909) 798-7681. Anonymous tips can be provided by texting 274637 using the keyword “REDTIP.”

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-- Weston Phippen

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