Man charged with stealing Greenville’s water

Court NewsThe Associated Press

GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) — A Greenville man will be court Sept. 9 to face charges of illegally tapping into the city’s water supply.

Assistant Police Chief Andrew Kaho said police arrested Byron Coleman, 32, this past week and charged him with theft of utilities. Coleman posted bond.

“It is more common than you might think. It happens with all utilities — cable, water, electricity,” Kaho told the Delta Democrat Times.

Coleman allegedly tapped into a water line at his property along U.S. Highway 82, said water department director Korey Adams, who had previously warned Coleman.

“We take a strong position against people who use straight pipes to avoid water bills,” Adams said. “Our department goes out and follows up on accounts that we have had trouble with in the past. We are being vigilant to eliminate water utility theft.”

The water department wants to help residents avoid trouble, Adams said, and that talking with the water department often can help avoid legal issues.

“Bills go out monthly,” Adams said. “If you fail to get a bill, just call. If you have an outstanding balance, visit us at City Hall, and we can work on creating a payment plan. Unfortunately, some residents still try to take advantage of us.”

Last month, Adams asked the City Council to hire an outside agency to begin collecting on past due accounts. Since 2009, the city is owed more than $1.2 million from some 4,500 delinquent accounts.

Theft of utilities carries a possible sentence of up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.

“We hope our actions will help deter further incidents involving the theft of utilities,” Kaho said.

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Information from: Delta Democrat Times, http://www.ddtonline.com