This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

AURORA, Colo. — Police in Aurora are trying to figure out who is stealing backflow preventers — devices used to stop contaminants from entering the city’s drinking water system.

The preventers are required on all commercial properties and irrigation systems.

“So far this year, 105 backflow devices on commercial properties have been reported stolen,” said police spokesman Frank Fania. That’s compared to 15 reported stolen last year.

The thieves have struck parks, businesses, homeowners associations and medical facilities.

“Some property owners have had their backflow preventers stolen more than once,” Fania said.

Investigators are uncertain if the metal from the preventers is being sold for scrap metal or if the device itself is being resold.  Metal from a single unit, which includes copper and brass, can sell for about $100.

“Backflow devices are a critical protection to the city’s drinking water supply,” Jeff Gaddis, Aurora Water’s Lead Cross Connection Control Technician, said. “These thieves are getting a nominal amount of money and are creating numerous hazards in the process.”

Police said a security cage is a good option to prevent the backflow preventers from being stolen. Even better, police recommend painting it black or brown.

“The painted parts are worth less at scrap yards and are more difficult to resell as new,” Fania said.

Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call Aurora police at 303-627-3152. You can also provide information on these cases and remain anonymous by calling CRIME STOPPERS at 720-913-STOP (7867).