Mystery of the missing pool water

swimming pool water theft

ANYONE FOR A DIP? A bemused Michael Bilsbury surveys his bone-dry pool after thieves drained all the water while he and his wife were sleeping Photograph by: IVOR MARKMAN

Thieves in Port Elizabeth are stealing pool water in a bid to make money.

They are making a quick buck in the drought stricken city’s suburbs, apparently by selling it to residents desperate to top up their pools.

The latest victim, Jacki Bilsbury of Walmer, said she had laughed when she read a local newspaper article about poolwater theft. But two days later she had the smile wiped off her face when her own pool was sucked dry overnight while she was sleeping.

The Walmer police have confirmed that they are investigating a case of theft. Spokesman Captain Bangile Nyamakazi said an investigator had been assigned to track the culprits.

However, area police spokesman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said the incidents were “sporadic ” and there was no need for concern.

Said Bilsbury: “I killed myself laughing when I read the report. Who has water stolen out of their pool?

“I think God was watching me and thought He would show me a thing or two. I didn’t think it would happen to me. You don’t see it coming.”

Haydn van der Walt, a Kamma Heights resident who was the subject of the newspaper report and Bilsbury’s merriment, said his water disappeared when the family left the house for a few hours. He said his pool had no leaks, and he had noticed that morning it was full to the brim.

He joked that his water had “no identifying marks”, so reporting the incident to the police might be futile.

The Bilsbury home’s high boundary wall, and security patrols in the neighbourhood, did not deter the thieves. They struck on Valentine’s night.

Bilsbury said her husband, Michael, awoke in the early hours to turn off the room fan — when he noticed that the pool filter was switched on.

“He went to the main board and switched it off. When we awoke in the morning, we realised we had no water in the pool. They had turned the filter on to ‘waste ’ and pumped all the water out that way.

“I’ve never heard of anything like this in my life, and nobody saw a thing.”

Pool water is reportedly becoming a booming business in the city .

Monty Montgomery, a manager at Atlas Security Systems, a company that patrols the area, said the crime had increased in the Nelson Mandela metro and was “undoubtedly a result of the water shortage in the area”.

“Opportunistic criminals continue in their inventive ways and, in this case, will arrive outside your wall and feed a hose-pipe to your swimming pool and pump the water out.”

He said the thieves would typically arrive in a bakkie with a tank loaded on the back.

“In most instances, they will use a hand-pump, not a generator- powered pump, owing to the noise factor.” He said residents should report suspicious-looking bakkies and trucks with tanks driving around the area at night.

“The best deterrent to an intruder is your faithful dogs. They are probably the greatest asset to your security at home and are often the first line of resistance.”

Bilsbury, meanwhile, said the drought in the area had been so severe that residents had not been able to use a hose-pipe for more than a year.

“Pool water has become a sought-after commodity because no one can fill their pools. Borehole water can apparently turn your pool into a black pond, and there’s nothing you can do because it has mineral content. And because of the heat, people are desperate for pool water.

“They sell it. It’s a perfect crime because how do you identify your water?”

A Cotswold resident, Pastor Dannie du Plessis, agreed.

Although thieves robbed him twice in October last year — taking about 10 000 litres each time — he believed laying a complaint with the police was futile.

He has been praying for the drought to end.

“Sometimes rain is forecast for the area, but it will only come as far as Tsitsikamma. It is very dry, especially in our catchment area. We can only pray.”

He said he bought his pool water from boreholes at R100 a kilolitre.

Source: Times Live

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