PINEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - One Eastern Kentucky utility district is cracking down on water thieves.
Managers at the Pineville Utility Commission say they catch people stealing water service each month.
Workers have confiscated dozens of items they found people using to get water service illegally.
"PVC pipe, garden hose, radiator pipe, copper pipe, there seems to be no limit to the ingenuity of thieves when they want to steal water," said Bill Bunch, Pineville Utility Commission Manager.
Bunch says workers discovered the homemade water pipes either during repairs or meter readings. He says they find three to four homes each month stealing water.
"With rising rates on everything, anytime you have theft of service, it's important we address it," said Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock.
Officials say anyone caught stealing water service could face federal charges. Bunch says utilities are included in Homeland Security regulation, so tampering with utilities is considered a terroristic threat under the the law.
"The penalties can be quite stiff," said Bunch.
Bell County officials ask people who know of water theft to report it to the Pineville Utility office.
"Just make sure someone knows because ultimately, it could affect the taxpayers in a negative way," said Brock.
The Pineville Utility Commission charges water thieves a $300 theft charge in an effort to recoup any financial losses.
On repeat offenders, the Pineville Utility District digs up water lines to the address and will not replace them unless someone new lives there.