Real estate company

Backflow devices stolen from Hesperia prompt real estate firm to offer reward

A local real estate company is offering a reward after recently falling victim to a series of anti-passback devices stolen from a property in Hesperia.

The Hesperia business center along Mariposa Road and south of Main Street has had its anti-backflow device stolen three times in the past three months, according to operations manager Michele McCormick at Lee & Associates in Victorville .

“We are offering a $500 reward for the identity and conviction of the person who robbed us,” McCormick said. “We also work with the Hesperia Sheriff’s Station.”

McCormick said an anti-backflow device was stolen in broad daylight and any recycling center accepting the device would be reported to the sheriff’s department.

McCormick’s company went so far as to paint the backflow preventers neon green so that if stolen, they would be recognizable to local recycling companies, law enforcement and anyone considering buying the ‘device.

“The third backflow device was actually returned to us by a company that said they found it,” McCormick said. “We found that very interesting.”

The first two shutters cost the company $8,000 each to replace, the last device $13,000 to replace the stolen shutter and roll cage and repair damage to the concrete pad, which was destroyed during the flight.

Thieves damaged a safety cage to steal a backflow preventer from a warehouse in Victorville last year, according to facility manager Dale Covington.

“It was an expensive mess to fix,” Covington said. “About five years ago we had a damaged air conditioner when someone tried to drain it for parts. After that someone tried to rip a catalytic converter out of one of our vehicles.

Domestic and commercial irrigation backflow preventers are commonly stolen for brass and copper, which can fetch a few dollars a pound at a scrap yard or recycling company.

“It usually only takes a few minutes to pull one out, and thieves don’t usually turn off the water to prevent flooding,” said plumber Ralph Hopper, 52, owner of Helping Hand Plumbing in Apple Valley.

Water backflow devices are typically located above grade along the street frontage for most commercial properties or near structures.

The U-shaped pipe acts as a valve to prevent irrigation or other water from backing up into the building’s drinking water source.

Safety tips

  • Paint, coat label or dab backflow preventers.
  • Cover backflow devices with a protective cage or enclosure, which are attached or mounted to the floor.
  • Use a high quality lock on roll cages.
  • Post visible signs that warn of safety precautions and pursuits.
  • Consider using plastic check valves, which contain minimal amounts of semi-precious metals.
  • Hide and conceal check valves.

Anyone with information about stolen backflow devices or other items should contact the Sheriff’s Dispatch Department at 760-956-5001.

Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz can be reached at 760-951-6227 or Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz

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