A Cautionary Message from an Ocean Sands Homeowner

This message was sent to our owner email inbox (Home Owners of Ocean Sands – Contact Us) on Sunday, July 31. It tells the story of a suspected theft of water during a one-week period in which the property was vacant. There have been many other reported incidents like this one in Ocean Sands and Crown Point.

Some preventive action you might consider are a home protection system with a CCTV, which are becoming more affordable.  Be aware of the actions of all pool service providers. Water theft could be for the purpose of refilling another’s pool or hot tub. Electricity theft could be to power tools used in the construction or renovation of another’s property.  

Here is the email we received from The Vickers’ on July 31. We wanted to share it with you:

Hello,
We are Jim & Paula Vickers, who own a rental home at 750 Mariner Drive, Ocean Sands, Section P, “Carolina in my Mind.”  Kitty Hawk Rentals is our rental agent.
I was just on the OSHOA website, looking for a place to post what happened to us.  If there was such a place or link to a Facebook page, or anything similar, I missed it.  We have good friends who have a rental house in Crown Point and they have a very active website where experiences are shared.  Do we have such a place?  If so, please pass it along to me.
Instead of re-writing what happened, I have cut & pasted below the email I just sent to Jason Ward, Manager of the Kitty Hawk Rentals website.  This major theft of water, which very brazenly happened to us the week of June 12-19, is evidently happening quite often.  Others in OS should be aware.  Plus, if anyone has figured out a creative way to prevent it, we are all ears.
Thanks,
Paula & Jim Vickers – Home # 703-765-8024, 360paulav@gmail.com


The following is the email the Vickers’ sent to their rental company:

We received our water OSWD bill for service period of 6/8/16-7/11/16, a 33 day period, during which 25 days were occupied by renters.  The week of June 12-19 was the only open week.  The water bill for that period was a whopping $1,324.94!  From what we have computed by past water bills, this was approximately an $850 overcharge.  Jim called the OSWD and as they requested as the first step, they sent a crew out to to check the meter & make sure it was properly read.  They determined the meter and reading were fine.
The next step was to request a $25 historical report of water usage.  We received that the next day, which indicated that during the 7 unoccupied days, every hour at least 250 gallons were read by the meter.  Of the total amount billed (61,270 gallons), in those 7 days, 39,000 gallons were billed.  When the next renter checked in, the meter readings returned to normal, ranging from 0 – 20 gallons per hour.
Clearly, someone “stole” our water during this one week period of unoccupancy.
Jim spoke again to the OSWD and we were advised that unless a leak was found (it was not) we are liable for the bill.
Tomorrow on August 1, Jim will call the OSWD and see if we have any other avenues of protest to challenge this bill.  If not, we will obviously have to pay it.
On July 30, Jim reported the theft of our water to Sgt. Dodd of the Currituck Sheriff’s Office.  Sgt. Dodd advised it was too late to file a report, but he is making note of it, as there have been 15 similar incidents of such theft in the last several months.  He said that if we have any other vacant weeks, to let them know and they will increase the drive-by’s to 4-5 a day, plus more after dark.
We are making KHR aware of this incident, and if you or anyone on your staff has any ideas of how we can prevent this in the future, please share with us.  We are thinking of several things.
But there is a way KHR can help.  Anyone can go on the KHR website calendar of our house and see if there is an unoccupied week.  In the future if there is a vacant week between the spring and the end of fall rental season that is not rented, we are requesting that on the Sunday that no rental is made, it be blocked as a maintenance week.  That way, it would make it harder for a dishonest person to troll the KHR website looking for a target.  If you require me to call that Sunday morning to remind you to do that, I will do so.
I will also be posting on the Ocean Sands Home Owners Assoc. website to make everyone there is aware of what’s going on.  The Shillitos tell us that it happened to other houses in Crown Point last summer.  
Any thoughts appreciated.  Thanks,
Paula & Jim Vickers

1 thought on “A Cautionary Message from an Ocean Sands Homeowner”

  1. Hello, This is Paula Vickers with an update. Again, in the interest of saving time, below is a cut & paste of an email I sent to a few of our OS neighbors. The story is actually worse, as we discovered in the 83 page hr by hr report of useage from the water c0., that the aggregious theft of water during the billing cycle also included July 10 & 11, 2016, the first two days of our second vacant week! Obviously we are being targeted and the thief knows exactly when our house is unoccupied! Ugh!!

    Jim called the water company & someone was sent out to confirm that there were NO leaks, and that there was nothing wrong with the monitor. Next step, for $25 we got an hour by hour report of water usage during this time frame. There was normal usage except for the periods of time when the house was empty, which, by the way, anyone could easily see from the Kitty Hawk Rentals website. Our house was not rented during June 12-18, 2016 & from July 10-16, 2016. The hr by hr report was 83 pages; we were able to see that during the first week of unoccupancy in June & the first 2 days of unoccupancy in July – specifically July 10 & 11, that 250-260 gallons of water per hour were charged for the 9 day period! We have no pool, or irrigation system, only a hot tub. We have reported it to the Sheriff’s office, where Sgt. Dodd told Jim that there have been 15 other such incidents recently in Corolla. We have reported it to the OSHOA rep, who tells us that “we are not alone” – that there have been similar thefts in OS. We have good friends who have a rental in Crown Point, and they tell us that they have more than a few neighbors who had similar thefts in CP last year. Our only recourse was to file in writing an appeal to Pat Irwin, the Commissioner of Water. We talked to him this morning. His first response was that “a theft this big was impossible.” Then, after he heard what Sgt. Dodd & the OSHOA rep had to say, he admitted that “something strange is going on.” He says he has never heard of this before and was going to call Sgt. Dodd. He did give us an adjustment on the bill=, taking of a large portion of the “sewer” use, as he knew we did not use that.

    We are notifying everyone we can about this, so all can be alert. If I had more OS personal email addresses, I would send it to them. Please feel free to pass on to whomever else you know in OS.

    Thanks,

    Paula & Jim Vickers

    (703) 765-8024

    360paulav@gmail.com

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