Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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October 3, 2013

Code inspection yields arrest and water theft finding

By CLINT FOSTER

When the Mineral Wells Police Department was called to assist the city’s code enforcement and inspections department at a house Tuesday afternoon, they discovered a lot more than they originally expected.

Police received a call around 3 p.m. to assist code enforcement, who were looking into a residence with some property order maintenance issues and a possible breach of public utilities. Upon arrival, police reported a “tremendous amount of unkempt debris” at the property. They found a woman inside the home who did not give her name and claimed to have no forms of identification.

Before long, the owner of the property showed up and informed police that no one was supposed to be there, evident by “no trespassing” signs posted around the area, according to a police spokesperson.

Police found out the woman, now identified as a trespasser, was Melinda Smith, a 35-year-old from Mineral Wells who had an outstanding parole warrant and an offense of failure to identify a fugitive. Smith was arrested and booked into Palo Pinto County Jail.

With Smith arrested, police and code enforcement continued to investigate the property.

Officials noticed that the power had been disconnected, but the house still had running water – although the water department said that utility was supposed to be shut off.

According to police, when they removed the utility access cover – where the water meter had been removed because the bill was not being paid – lo and behold, they discovered unknown subjects had manufactured a water-tap bypass of sorts connecting the city’s main line to the feed line that went inside the house.

Police showed the Index a photo of the creative bypass, which will be processed as evidence. It was a jimmy-rigged combination of duct tape, two faucet heads and various other pipes and, even, welding.

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