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Thread: Suggestions to Secure a Valve Box from theft

  1. #1

    Default Suggestions to Secure a Valve Box from theft

    Howdy,

    I am on the board of a small condo HOA, and we have a wierd problem. We have a irrigation control valve box in the front of our property that is targeted by thieves for the the brass regulators underneath. Our city runs rampant with copper theft, but this is the first time I have heard of brass as a commodity for an easy buck.

    We're not able to move the box to a more secure location as a city ordinaces places it within a certain amount of feet from the city water connection.

    The thieves break into the city manhole first to cut our water, then pop the lid of our valve box, and just rip the regulator right out leaving us a flooded hole and broken pvc connections.

    It's always a few hundred dollars to fix, and sadly it knocks the water out to half the community as we have to shut the water off, or it just floods.

    Does anyone have a suggestion on securing a valve box? I have found a few "locking" Valve boxes but none are key locked, and use some sort of bolt that can be opened easily it seems.

    We're considering everything from placing a large rock over the cover, to trying to chain the regulator to a deeply driven spike, but thought we'd ask around before we do anything.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions,
    Rob

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    At my condo we have five 2" RPZ valves. Those puppies are pricey, so we have fibreglass covers over them , secured with padlocks. There are several companies you can find on goodle who make both fiberglass, solid stainless, and wire cage boxes.

  3. #3
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    In addition to the locked covers, you might consider an alarm device that would activate if there was an attempt to open the cover that would alert someone in the condo complex who then could notify the police. A determined thief, if given time, can defeat almost anything. Remember, they don't care about damage they do to property to get what they want.

  4. #4
    Sprinkler Guy Wet_Boots's Avatar
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    Place a steel mesh cage over the valve box and manhole cover, and place a few dobermans inside.

  5. #5

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    Keep a large snake in there--preferably one that bites.

  6. #6

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    LOL Thanks. I love the snake idea!

    I wanted to thank you all for the suggestions. It's given me some ideas on things to google for other measures.

    best wishes all,
    Rob

  7. #7
    Sprinkler Guy Wet_Boots's Avatar
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    Is it possible to have a video camera pointed at the location? Is this an irrigation-only valve box you're concerned with? If so, and it were my choice, I would investigate into the possibility of getting iron-body PRVs, and maybe not having any union fittings in the valve box. If you were stuck with brass-body PRVs, you could still get rid of the unions, and use metal pipe for the inlet and outlets, and cover the inlet and outlet pipes with thick metal sleeves. That would give you something that could resist being broken with a pry bar, and also be very difficult to saw out.

    Also, some sort of microswitch could be set into the valve box, to sound an alarm when the cover is open.

  8. #8
    Plumbing Designer FloridaOrange's Avatar
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    Can you electrify the lid of the valve box?
    Matt
    Semi-professional plumbing designer
    Enjoying life in SW Florida

  9. #9
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I hope the comment about electrifying the lid was meant as a joke. If you did electrify the lid and then some toddler came in contact with it, your condo association would belong to the parents.

  10. #10
    Plumbing Designer FloridaOrange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Swart
    I hope the comment about electrifying the lid was meant as a joke. If you did electrify the lid and then some toddler came in contact with it, your condo association would belong to the parents.

    Yes it was a joke. Why no warning about poisonous snakes or dobermans?
    Matt
    Semi-professional plumbing designer
    Enjoying life in SW Florida

  11. #11
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Smile

    Point made and well taken.

  12. #12
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    They're all clearly meant as jokes, but there is a difference - the electrified lid is the only one that would land you in jail.

    Dobermans are obvious, so it isn't a "trap" for an unwary innocent. The snake is... well, I hate to say it, but it's deniable: "musta got in there, somehow..." plus, you can expect the evidence to probably crawl away.

  13. #13
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
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    Default light turns on; motion sensor

    another deterrent is a big light, that turns on only when they approach. The first time it happens, they are scared in the act and you may be able to film them too. After that they will pick easier targets. You can adjust the motion sensor at first so it doesn't get triggered accidentally, then you can adjust it so it covers a little wider area.

    david

  14. #14

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    Most valve boxes had a place to install a bolt. That in itself offers little protection. But you can get a five point bolt that requires a special socket for removal. This will force them to have to dig up the box. Since they are too lazy to get a job they might just skip the work and leave your valve alone.

  15. #15
    DIY Member Kiril's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by divot
    Most valve boxes had a place to install a bolt. That in itself offers little protection. But you can get a five point bolt that requires a special socket for removal. This will force them to have to dig up the box. Since they are too lazy to get a job they might just skip the work and leave your valve alone.
    Your kidding right? Pair of channel locks takes care of that 5 point bolt with no problem.

    I say put a bunch of black widows in the box. Let them get bit by a couple of those and it will make them think twice.

    I would image someone with creative imagination could fit one of those boxes with a keyed lock.

    Or perhaps you could also rig up some type of heavy bar that runs across the lid and locked into buried concrete pillars on each side.

    Course there is no solution other than using undesirable materials that can't be defeated with a shovel and pry bar.

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