Water rushing from stolen backflow with broken cage and installation next to it.

Backflow Preventer Theft

Recently, the district has responded to multiple reports of “water breaks” or “shooting geysers” that were the results of stolen backflow preventers.

The images above and below were taken by district operators who responded to these reports.

Stream of water shooting out of a broken backflow in grass near the sidewalk.

Water backflow prevention devices are typically installed above ground on the water service line leading into commercial buildings and multi-family complexes. The U-shaped pipe acts as a valve to prevent irrigation or other water from backing up into the potable water source of the building.

Backflow prevention devices are essential in protecting water supplies from contamination caused by reverse flow. These devices are often targets for theft due to the valuable materials they contain, such as brass and copper.

The following approaches can help prevent theft of backflow prevention devices:

Install Protective Cages or Enclosures: Use sturdy, locked cages or enclosures made of heavy-duty materials that are resistant to cutting or tampering. Ensure the cages are bolted to the ground or wall to prevent easy removal.

Water backflow device in a green caged enclosure.

A secured, locked cage enclosing a backflow preventer within the district.

Use Tamper-Resistant Fasteners: Replace standard screws and bolts with tamper-resistant or tamper-proof versions. Consider using security bolts that require special tools to remove them.

Install Security Cameras: Place security cameras in the area to monitor the backflow prevention device. Visible cameras can act as a deterrent to potential thieves.

Improve Lighting or Conceal: Make sure the area where the backflow prevention device is installed is well-lit, as thieves are less likely to attempt theft in brightly lit areas. Or disguise your backflow preventer by camouflaging it with natural landscape surroundings.

Perform Inspections: Conduct regular inspections to confirm the device is secure and to check for signs of tampering or theft attempts.

Inform the Community: Engage with the local community or a neighborhood watch program to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

Implementing a combination of these strategies can significantly enhance the security of backflow prevention devices and reduce the risk of theft.