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Denver property group asks for help following string of backflow valve thefts


DENVER — A recent string of backflow valve thefts has Denver businesses concerned. Backflow valves are found commercial properties and prevent contaminants from flowing into water.

The devices, made of copper and brass, are critical to cooking, cleaning, and irrigation. Thieves take the valves to local scrapyards and junkyards to receive quick cash.

“People actually will take chains and wrap them around the backflow and pull them out with a truck,” said Keira Troy, a building manager for Colliers, a real estate company.

Troy experienced a theft at one of her properties in Montbello. Colliers said they’ve had 25 valves stolen this year, costing them thousands to replace.

“The most we’ve ever seen,” said Robert Miller, vice president of operations for Colliers.

Colliers sent a letter to Denver Mayor Mike Johnston Thursday, asking the city to take action to prevent the thefts. The group is asking the city to stop scrapyards and junkyards from purchasing valves without serial numbers.

The letter said in part:

These devices all have serial numbers on them and should easily be identified if the metal recycling companies that buy copper would have checked. Unfortunately, the metal recycling companies don’t check and buy them for very low amounts. These buildings have to replace them for anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 per backflow. Year to date losses due to this vandalism now exceed $250,000!

The group also argued that the thefts create massive water waste. The theft of a single one-inch valve can cause the leak of 210 gallons of water per minute.

“We’re wasting a lot of water, and the value of what they get compared to what we spend is this minuscule,” said Miller.


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