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Officials vow to prosecute Petersburg water thieves

PETERSBURG, Va. – Officials in Petersburg will begin collecting money from customers who have been bypassing their city-issued meters to collect water.

In fact, officials said a grand jury decision Thursday morning will allow the city to move forward with prosecution.

“The Grand Jury decision shows the citizens of Petersburg that we are serious about collecting utility payments and we will not tolerate those who steal from the City,” Interim Public Works Director Emmanuel Adediran said. “It is the City Government’s responsibility to the citizens, employees and businesses in the City of Petersburg to collect what is owed us for the services we provide.”

Adediran said 12 indictments were issued after the meeting.

Water Bill Increase 

Earlier this month, city council members voted to implement a 14.3-percent utility bill increase that went into effect immediately.

City leaders said the increase was needed to help pay for repairs to the city’s water system, upgrade of meters and help with city debt.

Petersburg Interim City Manager Tom Tyrrell previously said the lack of maintenance over several decades led to serious problems and created expensive repairs.

He said the city needed millions to fix the neglected water system.

“Rates are going to increase because there’s no alternative really,” he said in February.

Stay with WTVR.com and watch CBS 6 News for updates on this developing story.