Water customers have been cutting the wires to their meters or destroying them to purposely prevent the city from reading the meters, Bob Miller, Public Works Director announced at a press conference June 12. The City of Jackson is investigating its water and billing system, he said.
"Anyone caught tampering with the City's water meter, destroying the City's water meter or stealing water through an illegal connection will be subject to arrest, imprisonment and a substantial fine for each violation. Water service will also be terminated," Miller said.
The City could not say how long the water tampering has been happening due to the ongoing investigation.
"We anticipate being able to divulge more information once the investigation is complete," Candice Cole, director of communications for the City of Jackson, told the Jackson Free Press.
Miller said that a combination of customer complaints, rumors and informal reports from employees pushed him to bring in investigators.
"We're getting statements from citizens. We also have photographic evidence, and we have enough that will make a sufficient and compelling affidavit that I'll be prepared to swear to and submit to the courts," he told the press.
The Director of Public Works said that though the investigation is still ongoing, they have also found that municipal employees may have advised customers on how to avoid their bills.
"Any employee who aids in the illegal avoidance of billing or aids in the tampering or destruction of a water meter is subject to arrest, imprisonment and a fine."
He said he has evidence that he will prepare in a sworn affidavit for the police and municipal court for prosecution. He advised employees who have any information to report it in writing to the public works director or else they could face "severe disciplinary action."
Miller could not comment on the exact number of customers and employees