The following press release if from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department:
From June through November of this year, several cities within the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office’s jurisdiction saw an increase in the theft of backflow valves and copper piping associated with light industrial buildings. The thefts occurred primarily in the overnight hours when businesses were closed. The City of Moorpark saw fourteen victims from September to November.
In early November, Moorpark Police Department investigators reviewed video surveillance from a local business and identified a white Saturn sedan as a potential suspect vehicle in the case. Through searches of prior contacts in the City of Moorpark involving this suspect vehicle, investigators discovered that John Tebroski was contacted in the area during the overnight hours during the month of October. Additional evidence was discovered that linked Tebroski and others to backflow valve thefts in Newbury Park and Moorpark. Investigators believe Tebroski was stealing the backflow valves and copper piping and selling the stolen property to recycling centers for the brass and copper value.
On 11-14-13, Moorpark Police Department patrol deputies observed Tebroski walking his dog in the early morning hours in the same light industrial area that was previously victimized during several of the thefts. When deputies contacted Tebroski, he was arrested after they found him to be under the influence of a controlled substance and in possession of two large wrenches and a pry bar.
Investigators later located Tebroski’s car, which was parked behind a light industrial building that was a prior victim of a backflow valve theft. Investigators searched Tebroski’s car and found a battery operated cutting tool, large pipe wrenches, a hacksaw and a small amount of methamphetamine, and Tebroski was arrested for several additional charges.
As a result of the investigation, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office filed five counts of Grand Theft, five counts of Petty Theft with Priors, Possession of Burglar’s Tools, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of a Smoking Device against Tebroski.
Investigators are continuing the investigation and expect to make additional arrests in connection with Tebroski and the thefts of backflow valves.
Backflow valve and copper thefts are not unique to Ventura County. These thefts have been reported nationwide. The Moorpark Police Department would like to remind business owners that the cost to replace these valves is between $500 and $1500, and a simple internet search will show several products available that prevent the theft of backflow valves.