In 1849, gold inspired a big rush to California and a whole lot of thievery.

In 2015, water has become the new gold!

Police are warning for businesses and residents to start locking up their taps. California’s drought has gotten so bad, people are stealing water.

Thieves busted the locks on the spigots at a popular Asian shopping center on Barber Lane in Milpitas, just to get their hands on what has become liquid gold.

Palo Alto resident Jason Zhur said he’s shocked it has come this far. “But water’s becoming more expensive than gas,” he said.

…Many businesses here have surveillance cameras, but apparently they weren’t a deterrent.

“I imagine it’s come to that point because water rates are going up, everything is going up, now,” said Zhur.

You can bet the thefts will increase along with the water rates, too! When it comes to stealing commodities, few can top Californians for creativity and boldness. Our copper thieves are notorious.

Vandals stole large sections of telephone wire in La Grange early Wednesday, disabling landline phone service throughout the area until 10:15 p.m., the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department reported.

They took the copper wiring, but also cut through a fiber optic line that knocked out 911 service to centers in Tuolumne, Mariposa and Stanislaus counties while also affecting some cell phone service.

AT&T crews worked the entire day to restore service, and Stanislaus County emergency services officials established a mobile command post, working with officials from the other counties to re-establish 911 service. The cost of repairs has not been determined.

The temptation to steal water has affected normally honest proprietors…of nudist camps!

In a case that highlights growing tensions brought on by California’s drought, the owners and two resident-employees of the Lupin Lodge nudist camp have been charged with felony conspiracy for allegedly stealing water last year from a neighboring property to keep their parched resort open.

The complaint filed by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday alleges that Glyn Stout, 77, his wife Lori Kay Stout, 53, Michael Buckland, 38 and John Berryessa, 49, piped water from Hendry’s Creek to the drought-affected, clothing-optional business despite numerous warnings to stop.

The four also face six misdemeanor charges, including trespassing on land managed by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect to watch will be the impact on the super-wealthy, many of whom support the eco-activist ideals that got California to this point in the first place. When Governor Jerry Brown called for water reduction, the super-rich community of Rancho Sante Fe increased its use increased by 9 percent. As of July 1st, the new water restrictions will apply.

Under the new rules, each household will be assigned an essential allotment for basic indoor needs. Any additional usage — sprinklers, fountains, swimming pools — must be slashed by nearly half for the district to meet state-mandated targets.

Residents who exceed their allotment could see their already sky-high water bills triple. And for ultra-wealthy customers undeterred by financial penalties, the district reserves the right to install flow restrictors — quarter-size disks that make it difficult to, say, shower and do a load of laundry at the same time.

I suspect the ultra-wealthy will find a way to address this potential nuisance.

California: Where politicians impose the rules and citizens find ways to get around them!