At least three fire hydrants have been stolen from Whittier streets in the past two weeks and some are concerned it could put residents in danger when there's a fire.
"It's bad," said Don Thompson, who has lived in the Friendly Hills neighborhood of Whittier for 45 years and has never heard of this type of theft. "It's like stealing manhole covers. Somebody knew what they were doing when they turned it off."
Lauren James, a spokeswoman with the Suburban Water Systems, which manages the water lines through Whittier and much of the San Gabriel Valley, said the thieves first shut off the water, then stole the hydrants.
"We definitely want everybody just to keep an eye out and call if they see any suspicious activity," said James said.
James said at a cost of about $2,000, each hydrant was replaced within a day of the theft report.
But that's a day without protection.
Given the quick-moving flames that threatened homes during a brush fire in the Fullerton La Habra area last week, neighbors are worried protection won't be there when it's needed most.
The hydrants are now bolted and welded to the base. People suspect the thieves took the hydrants to make money by recycling them.