LA thieves target unlikely item, leaving communities at risk of suffering out-of-control fires

About 100 fire hydrants have been stolen in Los Angeles County, California, this year, leaving many communities at risk if a fire were to break out.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told Fox News Digital its detectives are actively investigating the thefts of several fire hydrants from various locations in the county.

Just this year, there have been 85 fire hydrants stolen from the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County. In addition, 14 fire hydrants were stolen in the city of Lynwood.

Both areas, the department said, are patrolled by the Century Sheriff’s Station.

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(FOX 11 Los Angeles)

The thefts are being investigated by detectives at the Century Station and the sheriff department’s major crimes bureau.

“Fire hydrants play a crucial role in ensuring effective fire response and public safety, and their removal can have serious consequences,” the sheriff’s office said. “Rest assured, our top priorities are the safety and well-being of our community. We are fully committed to swiftly resolving this matter and ensuring all fire hydrants are restored and functioning properly.”

Golden State Water owns the fire hydrants and said from the beginning of 2023 to May of this year, 302 fire hydrants have been stolen.

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The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said about 100 fire hydrants have been stolen since the beginning of the year. (FOX 11 Los Angeles)

The water company said the thefts are prevalent in Bell, Compton, Cudahy, Florence-Graham, Gardena, Hawthorne, Huntington Park, Inglewood, Los Angeles, Vernon, Walnut Park, West Rancho Dominguez, Westmont and Willowbrook.

The thefts have resulted in a $1.2 million loss for Gold State Water. The company said it has informed more than 36,000 customers of the thefts.

It is a federal offense to tamper with fire hydrants. Golden State Water warned that anyone caught tampering with the water system will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

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Golden State Water crew replaces a fire hydrant that was stolen in Los Angeles County, California. (Golden State Water)

As the company continues to work with local law enforcement and fire services, the water company has sent letters to scrapyards to remind them that receiving stolen fire hydrants is illegal.

The company is working to replace the stolen hydrants. Locks are being added in an attempt to prevent the devices from being stolen again.

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Replacement fire hydrants in Los Angeles have a lock at the bottom to prevent them from being stolen again. (Golden State Water)

“The theft of fire hydrants is increasing at an alarming rate, posing a public safety risk to our customers,” Kate Nutting, general manager for Golden State Water Company’s Southwest Customer Service Area said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “To ensure the safety of our customers, local fire departments need immediate access to functioning fire hydrants. This is why we are taking the extraordinary action of placing locks on fire hydrants and urging the public to report crimes in progress to law enforcement and vandalized or stolen fire hydrants to our customer service center immediately.”

The Los Angeles City Fire Department told Fox News Digital it is aware of reports of stolen fire hydrants in the county. But as far as hydrants being stolen in the City of Los Angeles, there have not been any recent reports of such acts.

Still, if someone comes across a missing or damaged fire hydrant, they can call the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power at 800-Dial-DWP.

The sheriff’s department encourages anyone with information about the thefts to contact the Century Sheriff’s Station Detective Bureau at 323-568-4935 or submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

Greg Wehner is a breaking news reporter for Fox News Digital.

Story tips and can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter @GregWehner.

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