People Crossing Rio Grande To Steal From Water Plant
Acts of vandalism and thefts are being reported at a west side water treatment facility.
And utilities officials say they're costing the city thousands of dollars.
They say thieves on both sides of the border have caused some damage but recently it's been people from Mexico that are taking advantage of shallow water and coming across the border.
They're cutting through live cables and leaving pits over 50 feet deep wide open.
“The plywood is covering places where metal grating has been taken.”
Thieves looking to make a quick buck, risking their lives to steal any kind of material from this water plant on the rivers edge in west Laredo.
“Some of them will cut in to high voltage electric cables and we have tanks in the area we don’t want anyone to fall in and be injured or even lose their life.”
Assistant director for water utilities Carl Schwing says the thieves come from everywhere but in the last three weeks, large groups of them have been taking advantage of the shallow Rio Grande.
“We’ve seen people swim across the river and come in to our facility.”
The theft and vandalism are costing the taxpayer thousands.
The plant is getting a facelift but the thieves are complicating the project.
“With the man power involved and things like this it's reaching well over 50-thousand dollars.”
At first un-armed utilities workers were ordered to man the plant but it didn't work.
So they called in for back-up.
A Laredo police officer is now manning the plant 24 hours a day trying to keep thieves from striking again.
“It was just a few hours during darkness or weekends and now you cant turn your back on he project.”
“The fact that they're willing to steal from the water treatment plant is no surprise at all.”
Police say thieves across the city have done some outrageous things.
“Monument plaques vases from the cemetery. There’s no end to what these people can do.”
And the water plant is like a gold mine.
Unfortunately tempting some to go the extra mile over the fence and into danger.
“I really don’t know what they’re thinking when they’re putting their life at risk.”
Some of the wiring being replaced costs the city about $100 a foot and Schwing says when you’re replacing 100 feet of wire the cost really adds up.
The utilities department is working on a plan to keep thieves out of the property but until then Laredo police officers will be watching all day and all night.