EARTH CITY, MO (KTVI) - The brazen theft of an irrigation system was all caught on camera, and now the suspected thief faces hard time.
The victim of this theft is horticulture supplier Hummert International. On the company’s surveillance, a man in a bright orange hoodie and jeans is seen tying a fire hose around a backflow preventer, which is connected by pipes to the ground and to the building.
At a wider angle, it’s clear that the hose is already fastened to the thief’s pickup truck. He then hops into his truck and steps on the gas, and after several tries, the irrigation equipment breaks free.
Hummert International Vice President Jim Duever says, “After he stole it, he actually dug up a plant and planted it in front of it, to camouflage it. And we noticed that wasn’t where that plant was, so we looked into it and noticed it was gone.”
But by that time, the suspect, 39 year-old Joshua Dial, was already in custody in St. Charles, for a similar crime committed that same evening.
He was arrested in the same clothes, and driving the same truck, as captured on Hummert’s surveillance cameras.
So what did he want with these irrigation system parts? St. Louis County police say Dial frequently stole these items in order to sell the scrap metal and valves. The backflow preventer stolen from Hummert was solid brass and attached to copper piping.
Duever is relieved the suspect has now been charged, but says the theft caused thousands of dollars’ worth of damage, a lot more than just replacing the stolen equipment.
He explains, “Then, we have to go through and flush the whole system out, so we have irrigation specialists working for a day and a half, just cleaning everything up, then they leave, and still more dirt gets in there. So it causes an ongoing problem.”
The company now has a new irrigation system, inside a highly secured cage. It’s also made mostly with plastic, to lower its value on the scrap market.
Meanwhile, police are still investigating Dial’s role in backflow valve thefts in St. Charles. In St. Louis County, he faces one charge of Stealing over 500 Dollars, a Class C Felony.