St. John River flood-monitoring equipment in Maugerville stolen, damaged

Environment and Climate Change Canada is looking into ways to make its St. John River level monitoring equipment in flood-prone Maugerville more secure after some components were recently stolen and damaged.

Someone broke into the panel of the hydrometric gauge station, located on the bank of the river along Highway 102, near the Burton Bridge, sometime overnight Sept. 11, causing about $5,000 in damage, according to the RCMP.

The panel, which resembles a residential electrical panel mounted on steel posts, transmits data remotely to a collecting station, said Sgt. Andrew Griffiths.

It was padlocked, but someone pried it open and removed the circuit board, a battery and electrical components, he said.

"I would presume that the thieves or thief would have felt that they would have been copper," said Griffiths, but nothing that was stolen contained copper, "or any precious metals, for that matter."

Submitted by Environment and Climate Change Canada

Environment Canada hydrometric technicians discovered the damage late last week when they went to investigate why the station wasn't reporting data, said spokesperson Samantha Bayard.

It's one of 55 such stations across the province that operate continuously. They provide real-time data on the department's website and help warn people about impending floods.

Although most of the stations are marked in green, indicating data for the previous six hours are available, the Maugerville station, also known as 01AO002, is marked in red.

"The vandals dug out the orifice line and ground wires from an old inactive power line post," Bayard said in an email. "They also broke into the look-in shelter and stole the logger and battery and all wiring."

The remaining equipment is being tested, and the department's national hydrological services is "looking at options and cost estimates to make the station more secure," she said.

The RCMP investigation continues. Anyone with information, or who may have seen anyone in the area of during that time, is asked to call the RCMP at 506-357-4300. Information can also be provided anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or www.crimenb.ca.