Town To Seek Charges In Water Theft

While the Crothersville Water Utilities has had penalties for meter tampering on its books for decades, some residents have taken the act to a new level, according to clerk-treasurer Michele Teipen.

“We have had some residents who have had their water shut-off for non-payment go out to the meter pit and turn the meter back on to get water. That is of meter tampering,” she said.

When the utility workers discover that a meter has been turned back on but the bill has not been paid, they return to the location, turn off the meter and put a lock on it.

“Now we are finding a few utility customers, both property owners and renters, are using bolt cutters to remove the lock and turning their meters back on,” said Teipen. “That is theft of water and is no different that going to a gas station and driving off without paying.”

She said in the future, when the utility discovers locked meter on and delivering water, local police officers will be sent to the offender with a charge of theft.

“They will be taken to jail and booked in on the theft charge,” said Chief of Police Richard Hanlin.

The clerk-treasurer said there has been one instance that a landlord who removed his tenant’s water meter from the pit when the tenant hadn’t paid his rent. “That is theft of town property even though the landlord brought the meter in to town hall,” she said.

Tampering with a water meter can result in a $100 fine by the utility, according to the town ordinance.