Just after 2 a.m. Thursday, precious metal thieves began targeting businesses in the Shenandoah and Interstate 45 area. Their focus was on brass backflow preventers. These large brass devices are installed on the main waterlines and prevent water from a business or irrigation system from re-entering the main water system. Once the backflow preventers were cut out of the line, geysers of water could be seen at several businesses including Mattress Firm, Hooters, Roberts Carpets and Amazing Spaces, which are all businesses along Interstate-45. The Sprint strip center on SH 242 was also targeted.
Shenandoah Officers patrolled the area looking for any suspects while other officers, using umbrellas, shut off main waterlines to prevent heavy water use by merchants. Had they waited for repair crews to arrive, each business would have lost thousands of gallons of water.
Shenandoah Police notified scrapyards in both Montgomery County and Harris County to be on the lookout for the devices either in their whole form or cut into pieces. State law now requires scrap dealers to get identification on persons selling precious metals.
Police will continue to investigate and check security cameras at various businesses in the area as they attempt to identify possible suspects.
A back-flow preventer may bring about $20 to someone selling it as scrap, but the cost of replacement is much more. Made of bronze or brass, the cost of the part itself starts at over $200, not including the expense of professional installation.
Police ask anyone with any information to contact Shenandoah Police or Montgomery County Crime Stoppers.