Lone Grove police say former water official stole city water

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LONE GROVE, OK - Water: We take it for granted when we turn on the faucet. But if an unpaid bill gets it shut off some people find creative ways to keep the water flowing.

People might just steal it.

"They'll rig up different things to steal water from the city once the meter's been pulled," said Robert Oldham, Lone Grove's Police Chief. "But since I've been here this is the first time we actually found a meter."

Oldham is talking about Chris Potts, former city water supervisor. He said the water meter was pulled off of Potts home in June after he'd failed to pay his bill, but the department suspected the water was still flowing.

"So they went out early one morning, found where he--or somebody--had hooked up a meter and was getting water in the house," said Oldham.

Oldham said Potts admitted to finding the meter on Main street and using the meter on and off for last couple months to the tune of 9,700 gallons. Oldham also said that the meter appears to be one stolen out of the water department in 2011, a case that's still open. City manager Ian O'Neal said Potts could have used knowledge from his past job.

"It's possible," said O'Neal. "Any time a guy does that for a living for that many years he's gonna have a good working knowledge of how the system works and how the cheat the system."

Oldham said they've sent the district attorney's office charges to consider filing including theft of city utilities and possession of stolen property. Potts has since paid the bill he owed before his meter was pulled, and his home has a new meter installed.

We were unable to contact Potts.