By Kaylee Lindenmuth
SHENANDOAH - The chairman of the Municipal Authority of the Borough of Shenandoah, Leo Pietkiewicz, had a clear message for area residents at the authority's meeting Thursday: "Steal water, and you will be arrested."
At the meeting, the authority discussed recent issues regarding water theft.
"Since March 1, we've found seven people that were stealing water," said Jennifer Hepler, MABS office supervisor, at the meeting. "We shut it off, they turn it back on. We try to pack sand down the curb box so they have a hard time turning it back on, they get shop-vacs out and suck it out again. I don't know where we go next."
"Did anybody get arrested for theft of services?" asked authority member John Szczyglak.
"We pressed charges. As long as they pay for the amount of water they stole, all the charges are dropped," said Hepler.
"Our hands are legally tied. As long as we're filing charges, we just keep filing charges," Szczyglak added.
Hepler brought up the idea of filling curb stops with concrete if needed. Szczyglak brought up concerns about the difficulty of restoring water service in that case.
"Whatever it takes us to shut off, they're responsible for paying to turn it back on," Hepler said.
"Is that past practice?" Pietkiewicz added.
"We've never had this problem before," Hepler answered.
"It's an escalating problem," foreman Bill Moyer added.
Pietkiewicz then laid out the situation and plan moving forward.
"Current practice is, we fill the turn-off boxes with sand. They're responsible for paying the fees to turn the water back on," said Pietkiewicz. "If we have to take the severe step of filling them with concrete and shutting the water off, the homeowner will be responsible for the cost of turning their water back on."
"We know it's an issue, and we're stopping it right now. Steal water, and you will be arrested," Pietkiewicz concluded.
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