Willie Sutton was supposed to have said that he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” In California, thieves have found that money now comes in liquid form:
At least one managed to make off with 500-gallon water tanker. The wide load just up and vanished from a highway offramp.
It was early morning last Thursday when the Marina landscaping tanker truck was idling on a median by a tunnel in Oakland, California, according to police reports. Then some clever perp jacked it—and rode off with its tapped cargo.
It’s one of a growing number of water-related crimes in California, where Governor Jerry Brown has issued an executive order to cut down water use by 25 percent (PDF). These tough times are forcing them to forsake their signature emerald lawns, cut carwash trips, flush the toilet only for number twos. It’s such an incendiary climate that any Dick that forgets about the running hose for days might as well cop a plea as an arsonist.
So as the drought slogs into biblical proportions—recording the driest period in the state’s history—crimes of dehydration may become the new normal.
California is currently spending billions to build high-speed rail to connect Fresno to Bakersfield, which is like building a gold-plated space shuttle to travel from Milwaukee to Reno. It’s not that there’s anything particularly wrong with Milwaukee or Reno; it’s just that it seems like a mighty big expense for not a whole lot of traffic.
That same money could have been spent on desalinization plants, and enough electrical capacity to power them. And it isn’t like California didn’t have any warning. 25 years ago, I visited the Bay Area when it was under similar restrictions, where each toilet could be flushed once each day. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. Back then, the population of California was just under 30 million. Today it’s about 40 million.
It’s not the water thieves on California freeways the people should be worried about — it’s the thieves in Sacramento who stole their future.