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In New Mexico, crooks are now stealing public toilets

February 08, 2013|By John M. Glionna

These days, crime is a low-down dirty business, especially in  Albuquerque.

Cheeky crooks are ripping off public toilets. More specifically, they’re making off with the metal pipes that automatically flush the toilets.

The thieves have reportedly entered fast-food restaurants and other businesses posing as plumbers, which gives them cover for the huge wrench needed to take apart the flush mechanism. According to authorities, the pipes sell for around $30 on the black market but cost businesses about $400 to replace.

Albuquerque police told the Los Angeles Times that so far, no arrrests have been made.

“We have local recylers continuing the perpetuate the issue but buying the product on the black market,” Albuquerque police spokeswoman Tasia Martinez told The Times. “It’s pretty lowdown.”

Police say at least one Albuquerque-area recycling plant has been buying the stolen pipes. If the toilet has an auto-flush sensor, the value increases.

A local TV station, KOB-TV, did a several-minute piece on the thefts that started with a shot of a public urinal with a flushing sound. Police commander William Roseman told the station that many of the thefts involve the commerical Flush-O-Matic brand.

“We're talking Home Depot, Lowe's, Arby’s. They’re going into the restrooms and actually taking the metal out,” he said.

Roseman told the Times, "What's crazy is that the thief is getting next to nothing for these parts in resale, but it cost the companies 10 times that to replace them." 

He said police have video evidence that suggests that one thief may be responsible for taking as many as 15 toilets. "But businesses aren't reporting the thefts, so there's probably more," Roseman said.

The TV report ended with a quick turn of phrase: In this down economy, this crime trend proves nothing is sacred. Not even your toilet.

Readers of the website responded with their own humor.

“All I ask is to let me flush before you steal the pipes,” one wrote. Added another: “Hire restroom attendants, theft is countered and another job is created.”

Cracked Roseman: "Now that would be one crappy job."

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