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School closes after valve theft cuts off water

There used to be a backflow prevention valve at the Kingman Learning Center, but late Sunday night someone kicked off the cover and made off with the equipment.


KINGMAN - Water spewing from where a backflow prevention valve used to be: That was the scene staff and students at the Kingman Learning Center on Beverly Avenue faced when they returned to school from the weekend.

Someone stole the school's entire backflow system over the weekend, most likely late Sunday night, said Academic Administrator Heather Appleby.

"When we arrived (Monday) morning, there was no water," Appleby said.

Staff was alerted to the broken pipes and spewing water coming from the side of the building by a student who walked past it on his way to school.

"We lost thousands of gallons of water," Appleby said.

The school is closed until the problem can be fixed, which is a huge inconvenience to students and their parents, Appleby said. She's hoping to re-open Wednesday but admits it's a long shot because the school is still waiting on additional bids from local plumbers.

She said parents should keep a close eye on their K-mail, an Internet-based messaging system the school uses to communicate with families, and their cell phones for information about when the school will open again.

The school has dealt with vandalism before, most recently when a couple of its windows were shattered. But nothing was stolen, Appleby said. This is the first time the school has actually been a victim of theft.

"The whole system was ripped out of the ground," Appleby said. "It's unfortunate."

The lowest bid the school has received o far has the repairs costing at least $1,000, which is a far cry from the $50-$100 the thieves could receive if they're able to find a business to scrap the metal.

Backflow prevention valves protect water supplies from contamination.

The Kingman Learning Center wasn't the only victim of theft late Sunday night.

Lo's Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge on Tucker Street had its backflow prevention valve stolen, too.

Kingman Police Department Sgt. Bob Fisk said that about a year ago there was a rash of backflow valve thefts but police were able to track down the man suspected of committing them.

"It's illegal to scrap a backflow valve," Fisk said.

But that doesn't mean people don't try.

Thieves will cut the equipment into pieces and file away serial numbers in an attempt to conceal what it actually is. But they don't do a very good job, he said.

It's up to the scrap yards to remain diligent and not accept pieces of metal that clearly come from backflow systems, Fisk said.

At the moment, KPD doesn't have any suspects or leads in either of these thefts.


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