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Thieves hit 10 Fayette water systems since April

BECKLEY, W.Va. — At least 10 public service district pumping stations in Fayette County have been broken into and expensive equipment used to operate the water systems has been stolen, confirms Fayette County Chief Deputy Mike Fridley.

The break-ins have occurred over the six months between April through September.

In each of these incidents, one or more perpetrators cut through the chain-link fence surrounding the pumping station, forced entry into the pumping station and stole various items including copper wire, breakers, condensers, pumps, pump starters, drive controls and communication units.

Fridley said police aren’t sure why suspects are targeting the panels of electronics used to control pumps. While worth a good bit of money, they are specialized equipment used at water pumping stations, said Fridley. The electronics could be reprogrammed for other purposes, he said.

Total replacement value of the stolen items is well over $70,000.

“Unlike with stolen mine equipment, our investigators are unaware of a local market for stolen items of this nature. Stolen items of this nature bring only a small fraction of the actual value when sold as scrap,” said Sheriff Steve Kessler. “Thefts of this nature affect all of us, because they result in increased water and sewer rates as the PSDs try to replace the damaged and stolen items.”

The Page-Kincaid Public Service District has been hit at six different pumping stations — two stations along Deep Water Mountain Road, Ingram Branch Road, Dempsey Road, Beards Fork and Johnson Branch Road.

Dr. John Davis, member of the Page-Kincaid Public Service District, said these types of break-ins disrupt service for citizens and cost the PSD thousands. The districts must respond quickly to the break-ins to keep water flowing, especially the Page-Kincaid district where deep aquifer wells in Kincaid are pumped across a large geographical area, he said.

Two West Virginia American Water Company pumping stations have been hit, one on U.S. 60 at Jim Neff Hill and one on Okey Patteson Road in Scarbro.

The latest theft occurred at the Arbuckle Public Service District.

 Anyone with information about these thefts is asked to contact the Fayette County 911 Center at 304-574-3590.

These thefts remain under investigation by the Detective Bureau of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, the West Virginia State Police and other agencies.

— Email:; follow on Twitter @Sarah_E_Plummer

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