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Meter Tampering - Theft of Service - Cutting Locks


Stealing water from a water system is a criminal offense in Texas (class A misdemeanor). See Texas Penal Code Section 28.03(b)(3)(B). Class A misdemeanors are punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year, or both fine and confinement. See Texas Penal Code §12.21


The State of Texas has a law that makes tampering with meters or District equipment illegal and establishes penalties for violations. Penalties are prescribed for the following acts:

  • Interfering with the meter seal, the lock/locking device, curb stop or valves, meter setter, meter box, meter vault, or bypassing a water meter.

  • Knowingly consuming any water which has not been correctly registered on the meter because of tampering.

  • Reconnecting water service that has been disconnected or shut-off by the District for nonpayment or other reasons.

  • Knowingly consuming any water which has been unlawfully reconnected.


Anyone found guilty of these illegal acts may be subject to a tampering fine. Proof that a meter, pipe, valve, or other attachment has been tampered with or reconnected is presumptive evidence that the customer or user has caused the tampering or reconnecting. It is not necessary to catch a person in the act of tampering or reconnecting.

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