water theft

hey all

ppor is getting built in an estate at the moment. neighbour's house is already built and they've moved in. on monday night we went around to check what the builders did during the day - checking up on brick progress, etc.

when we arrived, wife heard a loud hissing noise near the neighbours. it was a leaky hose leading into the neighbours yard. the other end of the hose lead to our tap and it was turned on full blast. only thing i'd assume that would cope with that amount of water pressure was neighbour was filling his 5000 litre water tank. the water has been connected for weeks now so i dont know how long this has been going on.

i turned it off but left the hose connected. we took a couple of minutes to walked around the house to inspect. when we returned, the hose had been removed and neighbour was standing out on his driveway looking around probably wondering who turned off the tap. when he realised that we were present, he quickly went back inside.

i've informed the builders and they said to speak to city council. council said to seek legal aid or local police as this is technically theft. this is the only time i've seen the neighbour doing this and unfortunately, we didn't get pictures. i'm almost certain they won't do anything without proof.

i do not want the police or myself to confront the neighbour as yet because our house is an easy target for malicious damage in its present state.

i'm hoping that he might be spooked now and wont do it again. but if he is, do you guys have any suggestions on what i can do?
Cost of water in Brisbane currently about $600/ML. (Million litres.)

5,000L = 1/200th of a ML

Therefore they've "stolen" about $3 worth of water, if they've completely filled their 5 KL tank.

Not good form - certainly. Violation of water restrictions - yes. Theft - technically, yes.

Worth getting worked up about? Nope.
Have / been having a similar problem. Try and search in the add value section for a thread on how to remove a garden tap nob.

good luck.
i'd say he'd be so ashamed at being caught you won't have any problems. he might not even look you in the eye and wave when you finally move in as the humiliation will still be there.

i'm with ozperp - his shock at getting caught, and the embarrasment, should be punishment enough for a couple of dollars worth of water.

wonder why he bothered - perhaps didn't realise how cheap it was.
Personally I'd talk to them, explain you'll be moving in soon and say please don't do it. Understand you want the water backup but it's my water etc. Then have nothing to do with them apart from a wave. People like that don't see water stealing as 'stealing'.

The other way is to get a meter reading, tell them you've had the meter read and advised the police and if you catch them at it again the full weight of the law shall descend.

Being PPOR, personally I'd step lightly. Better knowing about the neighbours morals and trustworthiness rather than make them immediately hostile when you don't know how they'll react to getting called out. Last thing you want is one of those neighbours wars you see on Today Tonight. Now you know what type of people they are you can make security precautions on that basis and see if they're malicious thieves or just opportunity thieves.

People often don't see theft without an obvious victim as theft - especially these days when outdated laws on victimless crime have reduced respect for the law. Make it obvious that a theft is from you and most people will at least stop stealing from you, even if they move to another target.

Years ago I moved into a country house that had been ransacked by the locals who'd stolen everything of value - it was the 'done' thing for abandoned houses by a certain segment of the population. Later during our residency over a cup of tea a neighbour said 'oh yeah we got the stove from that old house'. Useful information indeed and saved us the couple of thousand that another neighbour lost to that tealeaf, by loaning equipment in good faith.

Someone once told me that some cultures don't call 'theft' if you leave a wide open door for the taker. I think a lot of people have that attitude so a bit of security minded care goes a long way.
I would probably look at it a little differently - I am not living there so therefor not using my water allowance - so I would talk to my neighbours - tell them they are welcome to my allowance till we need it - try not to go over as we dont want a letter from council ( and they do send the letters!) But can you make sure your lawn and plants are looking green and growing fast because we want something nice to look at when we move in !

Win win
it's a bit of a tricky one ... this was blatant theft, but is it seen as such?

i know when i take my dog for a walk - if the weather is a bit warm and she's getting thirsty i look for a garden tap at the front of a property and give her a drink from it.

technically it's theft ....
I don't think it's anything to get worked up over. They know they have been caught in the act. I don't think you'll get a repeat performance.
it's a bit of a tricky one ... this was blatant theft, but is it seen as such?
It's almost as if it would be better if after seeing the OP had waved at them and said something along the likes of 'sorry mate. Have been caught red-handed. Do you want any money?'.

Regardless I would prefer to learn the integrity of people around me before I had officially moved in with them, so I would see that as a positive in this situation.
I've thought about it some more, and especially given that they're going to be PPOR neighbours, I wouldn't be thinking, or using the word, "theft", at all, yet. You want to "assume the best".

I can think of many scenarios under which they'd not think they were doing anything wrong. What if, for example, they asked the builder or one of the tradies if it was OK to use your water? For all they know, it could be the builder building a spec home, and they thought the person they asked had authority to let you use the water. And if they know the water is worth $3, it would be ridiculous to expect them to think "well, the builder says it's OK, but we really should check that they own the property and have the authority to give the go-ahead..."

I'd be willing to be there's a perfectly reasonable explanation, eg their hose isn't long enough to reach from their tap to the tank, or their water pressure isn't strong enough, or... who knows?

There are all sorts of exemptions to the water restriction rules when building, too, so they may not even be doing anything against the water restrictions.

Give them a chance to explain. This may be a funny story to look back on in future years, after you've become good friends. But your chances of becoming neighbourly are minimal if you start out assuming that they're thieves.
I'm with Ozperp.

There's always two sides of the story. Just ask the neighbour what the story is.

She's definitely a stealing offence. It happens a lot in dry rural towns that use tank water.

Atleast they aren't stealing your electricity. Druggies often get charged with stealing electricity.
Next time you're visiting the property, pop in to your neighbours place and ask for a glass of water to quench your thirst. Of course, you explain that you'd use your own water but just received a water bill and are too afraid to use your own.

Have / been having a similar problem. Try and search in the add value section for a thread on how to remove a garden tap nob.

good luck.

Suggesting they read to learn how to change a garden tap nob? That's a little condescending wouldn't you say? :rolleyes:
It happens a lot in dry rural towns that use tank water.
Thankfully the theives in those towns can't afford the key part of the vandal proof tap (and also lack the grey matter to realise its just a part you can order from the local hardware store - they don't keep them in stock) :D
Grow some balls and confront them about it!

You don't have to be hostile, just go around and knock on their door, then politely ask why they were using your water... I'm sure they will be embaressed and feel like fools and your job will be done - the way they react and their attitude is the key to it IMO.