West Virginia American Water issues alert on water theft, equipment tampering and worker harassment
West Virginia American Water issued a reminder Thursday that unauthorized use of utility services, tampering with utility equipment and assaulting utility workers performing their public service duties are serious crimes punishable by substantial fines and/or imprisonment.
According to a press release issued by WVAW, during a recent service call in Huntington, a WVAW employee experienced threats and intimidation by residents when the employee attempted to shut water off to a home with an illegal water service connection.
“The property’s water meter showed repeated instances of water theft,” the release said. “And a lock previously placed on the meter had been cut off.”
WVAW officials said fortunately, the employee reacted quickly by escaping pursuit and locking herself in her vehicle. She then reported the threatening behavior to local law enforcement.
WVAW President Brian Bruce said the safety of the company’s employees is of the utmost importance.
“We will not tolerate aggressive, intimidating, or threatening behavior toward our West Virginia American Water team members carrying out their duties,” he said.
“Furthermore, when theft and tampering occur, all customers must pay the costs associated with lost water and replacing broken or stolen equipment,” Bruce said. “We will pursue charges against perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.”
WVAW wants to remind customers unauthorized water use includes:
| Opening valves at the curb or meter that have been turned off by company personnel
| Bypassing, removing, disabling or adjusting water meters
| Breaking, picking or damaging shut-off locks
| Connecting to or intentionally damaging water lines, valves or other equipment to receive water service that is not measured through a meter and/or is not being billed
| Using unmetered fire hydrants for construction, swimming pool filling, tanker truck filling, or any other purposes apart from West Virginia American Water employees for maintenance purposes and fire department personnel for firefighting
Officials said if individuals are aware of any of the above activities in their neighborhood, please report them to WVAW at 1-800-685-8660.