The East Mesa of Las Cruces has been plagued with a series of manhole and water valve cover thefts. Within the last week, thieves made off with 43 water valve covers in the vicinity of Northrise Drive and Sonoma Ranch Boulevard. In the past five months, 23 manhole covers have been stolen in the East Mesa area.
Each manhole cover costs $110. Water valve covers cost $15 each.
“The removal of these covers seriously jeopardizes the safety of vehicular and pedestrian traffic and exposes the water and wastewater system to threat of vandalism or greater acts of damage,” said Eric Lopez, water and wastewater administrator for Las Cruces Utilities.
Lopez further states that in accordance with U.S. Department of Homeland Security guidelines, federal Bioterrorism Act of 2002, individuals who steal manhole covers may be considered to be tampering with a water system and are to be reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If apprehended or linked to such acts, those individuals may face federal terrorism, or aiding and abetting acts of terror charges under the Bioterrorism Act.
Lopez says Las Cruces Utilities has contacted area scrap metal and recycling operations in hopes of recovering some of the stolen covers. Police reports have been filed and the public is asked to assist in identifying the thieves and recovering the stolen items.
If you know the identity of the person or persons responsible for stealing the manhole and water valve covers, or have any information that may help investigators, you are asked to call Las Cruces Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or send a tip via text message to LCTIPS (528477).
The Crime Stoppers number and text messaging services are operational 24 hours a day and you do not have to give your name to collect a reward.