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Man charged with water theft crime after pipe discovered

Did you know that you could be charged with a felony in Virginia if you fail to pay for your water? That is what happened to one Chesapeake man, who is accused of stealing water from the city. The 53-year-old man is just one of more than 20 such theft crime cases in Chesapeake in the past year, according to official reports.

Authorities say that most of the cases arise after municipal water customers fail to pay for a significant amount of time. Their water meters are removed from their homes. After that, some people figure out a way to rig the lines so that they can receive water at no cost.

In most instances, the city does not pursue criminal charges against those who are accused of taking water. Instead, they simply take additional measures to stop the flow of water to that location. Defendants may be able to avoid a criminal record for water theft in many cases, largely because of a lack of evidence. That situation can be a boon for a criminal defendant. Attorneys may be able to help defendants evaluate the nature and quality of the evidence against them, allowing for more educated defense decisions.

This year, though, Chesapeake authorities have brought charges against all six defendants accused of water theft. This man was reportedly apprehended for the alleged theft crime after his neighbor noticed a higher water bill. That man identified a pipe that had been buried near his mobile home park; he reportedly followed that newly installed pipe to the defendant's house, which was not outfitted with a water meter.

It is not clear whether the defendant has been served with a warrant at this point. That document was drafted on March 26, but it still had not been served as of April 15. The defendant refuses to comment to the media about the case.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot, "Chesapeake man faces water-stealing charge" Scott Daugherty, Apr. 16, 2014

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