Real life Czech 'wet bandits' duped after officials slow the flow of public fountain

A park in South Moravia attracted people who filled jugs with hundreds of liters per day, but local officials said enough is enough. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 21.04.2023 10:12:00 (updated on 21.04.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The town of Břeclav in South Moravia had an unusual problem: people abusing a public fountain by taking away hundreds of liters at a time in jugs.

The public fountain in a park called Kančí obora for many years has had a reputation for clean, high-quality water, and this has attracted people from beyond the local area. Since last May, the town has set a limit of 10 liters per day from the fountain for any person. But this did little to stop the water pirates.

Local water company Vodovody a kanalizace Břeclav has now slowed the flow of water to a trickle so that people would have to wait hours to fill multiple jugs.

"Although now the water is flowing really slowly, on the other hand, those who came for refreshments will wait and don't mind," water company spokeswoman Eliška Windová told news server

The drinking fountain is often used by pedestrians and cyclists who stop there during trips to the popular Lednice-Valtice area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. People filling multiple jugs often blocked others who needed a quick drink from having access to the fountain.

Police hope to avoid giving out fines

Police are now monitoring the space, and if they catch someone filling multiple canisters of water, they can possibly take action.

Břeclav’s police chief Stanislav Hrdlička said he would prefer to resolve the issue with warnings.

"But if it were in a larger amount or, God forbid, repeatedly, then of course there could be a fine," he said.

Windová would also like to avoid fines, but they want to ensure that every one can have access to the water as they consider it a public service.

Before restricting the flow, the town considered some type of payment platform where people would pay for each liter. They decided against this as runners for example often don’t carry money.  

Water theft may seem like a minor crime, but it can be a serious issue, especially in places affected by drought. The idea also has a place in popular culture, with the criminals played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern in the holiday film "Home Alone" known as the "Wet Bandits" because they would leave the taps running in houses they robbed. The victims would not only lose whatever the thieves stole, but they would also be on the hook for an enormous utility bill.

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