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Sep 24, 2012 9:34 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Plumbing thefts plague Midtown area

TUCSON - A string of backflow preventer thefts along Fort Lowell has businesses footing an expensive repair bill.

Backflow preventers, which keep water sent down a drain from backing up are easily accessible and thieves are cashing in off the recycled medals.

"It's just a matter of minutes and they're gone," said Juan Escalante of Ameri Root Plumbing.

It's become a huge problem in the area, hitting at least a half dozen shops just last week.

"Thy're all made of bronze and brass and that's typically the reason why they're all being stolen," Escalante told News 4 Tucson.

Thieves are cashing in at less than $200 for the raw metals, leaving businesses like Salon Noveau, which was hit last week, with a nearly $2,000 repair ticket. They were without water and had to close shop for part of the day, missing out on that revenue.

"It did affect business, we had to call a lot of clients...a lot of guests who were not happy and cancel their moerning appointment and move them around and the staff," said Marva Bryant, the manager of Salon Noveau.

Local plumbers say they have been replacing fixtures because of thefts up to five times a week recently.

"We had heard that there were a couple others up and down the street that it had happened to," Bryan said. "There was a church down the street that it happened to, which is even more sad than at a business."

Many of the plumbers suspect that whoever is behind this, know's exactly what they're doing.

"[Someone] who has the tools and knowledge to be able to go in there, but these things and disappear so quickly," Escalante said.

He says that because these fixtures are usually out in the open, it makes it that much easier for thieves to capitalize on.

"If you don't put a fence around these things, they're going to disappear and it's going to cost you," Escalante added. "Between a thousand dollars maybe up to two thousand dollars."

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