After having his water meter and water backflow device stolen in the middle of the evening, a Rainbow resident warns others living in the rural parts of the Fallbrook community to guard their own devices.
Michael Varga was washing his dishes at home on October 3 when the water stopped.
“I only had half an inch of water in the sink when it just trickled to a stop. My meter is close to others, so I thought someone had accidentally turned it off,” he said. “I drove down and saw the water had washed out the road.”
The fire department, Sheriff’s department, California Highway Patrol and Rainbow Municipal Water District (RMWD) workers responded to the scene.
“The CHP was who told me that someone had stolen my meter and backflow device, and that this happens all the time,” said Varga. “It happened around 6:30 p.m., which means that it happened in broad daylight. It took four hours to turn off the water, an all day repair by RMWD, and I was without water for 24 hours.”
According to Brian Brady, general manager of RMWD, backflow devices are occasionally stolen from agricultural customers in Rainbow because they are made of brass.
“Thieves take the brass to scrap yards,” explained Brady. “We generally don’t have too many instances of this; it seems to happen sporadically. When it does, we notify the Sheriff, who then notifies the scrap yards so that they can look for a serial number. We appreciate the prompt help of customers when they see a circumstance like this so we can address the water loss and can notify authorities.”
In order to protect his new meter and backflow device installed by RMWD, Varga ordered a security stage and a concrete slab to encase his water meter and backflow pump, doing the majority of the repairs to his property himself. Varga stated the repairs cost him $1,200, with the meter replaced by RMWD at $500.
“I can’t imagine how expensive this would be if someone needed to get this all installed,” said Varga. “Originally, I was going to offer a reward, but instead, I’m putting the house up for sale. I hope others are able to prevent this from happening.”