Metal Thieves Target Sprinkler Backflows

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Tuesday April 30, 2013

We're tracking what Wichita police tell us is a relatively new trend of thieves targeting the backflow preventers on sprinkler systems to steal metal.

Nine businesses in the commercial area on Rock Road between K-96 and 37th street suffered damage to their sprinkler systems in the early Tuesday morning hours.

Thieves damaged or destroyed what are called 'backflow preventers' just to get a few bucks worth of brass. Backflow preventers are required on sprinkler systems connected to Wichita's municipal water to keep fertilizer and pesticides from flowing back into the city water.

Wichita Police Sgt. Travis Rakestraw says, "This is something we're starting to see more and more of throughout the city. This trend with the backflow valves, in particular."

Two hotels, Northrock Suites and Wichita Inn North were victims. The hotel's general manager Wes McGregor, says he was called at 3:30 a.m. by hotel staff saying water was shooting into the air from the sprinkler system.

McGregor says the thieves broke the backflow couplings off just to get at the brass valves. McGregor says it will cost his hotel hundreds of dollars to fix the damge while the thieves get just a few dollars worth of metal.

Sgt. Rakestraw asks us to report any suspicious people who are messing with the sprinkler system backflows in the middle of the night.

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