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article imageThief with a work ethic took fire hydrants for scrap value

By Stephanie Dearing     Apr 25, 2010 in Crime
Police finally caught up with a man who was stealing fire hydrants in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, California.
San Bernardin, CA - It is estimated the 45 year old thief, who ran a sophisticated operation, managed to steal at least twelve of the hefty fire hydrants. Police say the value of the hydrants on the market is around $1.60 per pound when sold as scrap metal. Police think the man cut up the hydrants before selling them. The average hydrant weighs between 80 to 100 pounds.
Brian Burian was caught Wednesday. He had posed as a repair person. Shutting off the water, and wearing an orange safety vest he would remove the hydrant, driving off in his white utility truck. Burian's criminal career likely would have lasted somewhat longer, but he was caught in the act by a county water department employee.
The efforts of Mike Hurst provided the lucky break in the case for police. Hurst, who works in the water department, thought the behaviour of the hydrant repair person he had observed was suspicious. 34 year old Hurst tried to follow the thief, but lost him in the traffic. The intrepid crime-fighting citizen then decided to set up a stakeout to nab the thief with a work ethic, following the man to his home in Riverside County on Tuesday April 20th. Hurst then contacted the sheriff, who sent out a deputy to arrest Burian Wednesday.
Hydrants are mainly made from cast iron, although other parts may have more valuable metals. Police said can cost up to $1,800 to replace a hydrant. It is a felony for a scrap yard to purchase metals that came from a fire hydrant, but police said the pieces were small and hard to identify.
Burian is being investigated to see if he is responsible for the theft of 25 fire hydrants in San Bernardino County, as well as another 19 in Riverside County.
Burian has a rap sheet for drug possession, burglary and possession of stolen property. He is currently being held in jail, although could be released if someone posts his $10,000.00 bail.
The theft of fire hydrants might be a new wrinkle in the world of stealing metal objects for their scrap value, but as a rule, if something is made of metal, it is eligible for theft. Earlier this month, scrap metal thieves made off with railroad tracks and other railroad-related parts in South Carolina.
Demand for scrap metal overseas has driven up the price, something that has interested people hit by the recession.
One of the more unusual scrap metal theft stories comes from the United Kingdom in 2008, where police stopped a gang who used a drunken dwarf to enter homes and steal metal.
More about Fire hydrant thief, Fire hydrants, Riverside county san bernardino, Scrap metal
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