Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Tucumcari bulk-water dispenser vandalized


July 31, 2019

Ron Warnick

The city of Tucumcari's bulk-water dispenser was rendered inoperable for nearly 36 hours after a burglary where a motorist deliberately rammed his or her vehicle into the building to gain access inside.

Some rural Quay County customers were forced to find other water sources for almost 36 hours after a burglary last week rendered inoperable a bulk-water dispenser owned by the city of Tucumcari.

City manager Britt Lusk said service was restored to the dispenser about 3 p.m. July 23 after the break-in was discovered the previous morning.

Lusk credited facility maintenance director Chris Gries for his repair work at the facility at Main and Third streets.

"He did an amazing job," Lusk said. "We appreciate the community's patience while we got that back up and running. We will increase security at that place."

Michael Martinez of the city's water department reported to police the break-in and theft at the water dispenser building at 6:53 a.m. July 22.

According a Tucumcari police report, Martinez told an officer he checks the dispenser's cash machine daily about 7 a.m. except for Saturdays and Sundays. He last had checked the machine at 7 a.m. July 19, a Friday.

"The north wall was separated from the building approximately 12 inches and the brick footer was broke away from the building," Tucumcari officer Shaun Slate wrote in his report. "Martinez told me someone had (hit) the building approximately two weeks ago so that same corner of the building was already damaged. It appeared someone pulled the broken wall farther away from the building to fit through."

The officer could not find footprints or fingerprints at the scene.

Tucumcari Police Chief David Lathrom said someone deliberately drove his or her vehicle into the building to break it open and gain access inside.

Martinez said the cash machine inside the building was not locked, and a couple of screws that kept the machine's access panel closed had been loosened. Martinez said the machine, which normally would be full of quarters and dollar bills, had been emptied. Martinez told the officer the machine would contain from $400 to $600 on Monday mornings this time of year.

"The facility does not have a camera installed but I did suggest the idea to Martinez," Slate wrote.

On its Facebook page, the city of Tucumcari initially announced a few hours after the burglary report the dispenser would be inoperable because of theft "until further notice." Later that day, the city stated it would set limited hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. there.

Quay County Crime Stoppers announced it would offer a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of any suspects connected to the break-in. Those with information may call Crime Stoppers at (575) 461-3507; all callers can remain anonymous.


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