Police investigating stolen sewer equipment
by Rachael Griffin
rgriffin@annistonstar.com
Dec 10, 2012 | 4364 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The theft of two crucial valves and other equipment from a sewage pumping station has police investigating and the Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board making do until the parts can be replaced.

Investigators are searching scrap yards for the stolen valves and aluminum lid covers taken from the pumping station on the 1600 block of Front Street, according to Anniston police Capt. Richard Smith. The police report states the items could have been stolen as far back as December 2009 and gone unnoticed until now, because the station is not often visited by workers.

“It probably ended up in a scrap yard somewhere,” Smith said.

With several years passing before the parts were even reported stolen, Smith said it could be difficult to solve the crime.

Jim Miller, the general manager of Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board, said these parts were in what the board considers to be a fairly secure area. He said the valves are not something the board uses often, but when they are needed they can be critical.

Miller said the valves control the sewer flow going into the main sewer lines. He said the theft was noticed because the board was going to adjust that particular line and when the workers went to turn the valves off, they weren’t there.

“It’s a critical part of our system,” Miller said. “It will interfere with the operation of our system until it’s replaced.”

Miller said these parts don’t require a lot of maintenance and that’s why no one has been to the location in several years.

“They may sit there for 25 years, they’re designed to just work,” Miller said.

Miller said the valves and lid covers are made out of expensive materials, which he estimated will cost the board more than $20,000 to replace.

“Someone decided that $200 to $300 worth of scrap material was more valuable to them,” Miller said. “That’s unfortunate, but it happens more and more now.”

Miller said the most unfortunate part of this case is that the stolen aluminum lid covers went over a pit that has waste running through it. The theft made it possible for a person to fall into the pit, which Miller said could have been serious.

Miller said there were never any environmental concerns with this theft, but the stolen parts will affect customer’s bills.

“The point is it will cost them something, it might be pennies for a month, but it will cost something,” Miller said.

Miller said the location of the equipment has a fenced in perimeter and was considered one of the board’s most secure pieces of equipment. He said it is likely the board will have to pay to have the equipment replaced and find a way to keep the area more secure.

“We’re investing money in cameras, especially for our treatment plants, but we need to depend on people to be responsible,” Miller said.

Anniston police are currently investigating the theft. According to the police report, any suspects would likely face felony theft charges.

Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.

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