A break-in at the Helena, MT, Water Treatment Facility early Sunday morning that resulted in the theft of a vehicle and damage to a gate has city officials rethinking its security.
The crime occurred shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday after someone broke inside the 8-foot high gated and fenced water treatment plant.
The suspect gained access into the building by throwing a rock through a window leading into the break room. Once inside, the suspect stole two cell phones and a 2010 GMC Sierra work truck, driving it through this garage door, and then through the closed security.
“You know it’s an 8-foot high chain link fence with barbed wire, the place is secure. Somebody must have crawled in somehow and broke out,” said Helena City Manager Ron Alles.
Officials later found the truck just south of Missoula with some damage.
Missoula County authorities, the FBI, and Helena-area law enforcement are processing fingerprints and other evidence associated with the crime.
Officials said nothing seemed tampered with inside the water plant.
“What I would say and assure to folks is that the water supply is safe. It’s been tested and everything is top notch right now and there is nothing to worry about,” said Alles.
Due to the vulnerability shown by this incident, the city will take a closer look at improving security, which may include video surveillance or better alarm systems.
One plant operator estimates the total damages in excess of $50,000.