Usually, catching a theft suspect takes at least a small amount of detective work. But Luis Paz made things easy for police, laying out a trail of bread crumbs at 10:30 Wednesday night leading directly to the front door of his Northwest Dallas home.
To be accurate, it wasn't actually his front door that he led them to; it was his lawn. And the trail the cops followed wasn't actually made of bread crumbs but of four ordinary garden hoses. They were all attached to a fire hydrant in the 3100 block of Talisman Drive by a specialty spigot, three pumping water into his front yard, the fourth into his back.
There were a couple of things wrong with that picture. According to the Dallas' mandatory watering restrictions, he should have held off on watering until Thursday, when the city's even-numbered addresses get their turn. But the officers who knocked on Paz's door were less concerned with the vagaries of some municipal ordinance than with the fact that the water coursing through the hoses belonged to the city of Dallas. Theft, in other words.
Officers confiscated the attachment used to attach the hoses. Paz, who readily acknowledged that he had tapped the fire hydrant in order to water his garden, escaped censure, but mainly because police weren't sure quite how much water he'd stolen. They referred the matter to Dallas Water Utilities to calculate the loss.
"It's undetermined right now," a Dallas police spokeswoman said. "We can't really classify what it is. If it's thousands he could be a felony."
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So, Paz could get off with a ticket or, if he'd been siphoning city water for long enough to reach the $500 threshold, he'll be headed to jail. In his defense, the hydrant was just sitting there.