Suspect already facing criminal mischief charge for siphoning water

A St. Helens man may face first-degree charges of criminal mischief and theft after tampering with a meter to siphon natural gas without paying for it, according to police.

St. Helens Police Chief Terry Moss said Ricky J. Holz’s June 5 arrest was not the first time he has been accused of bypassing a utility meter.

Holz has already been charged with criminal mischief in the first degree stemming from incidents in November 2012 and July 2013, when he jury-rigged a connection to city water after cutting off his water meter, according to Moss.

“November of 2012 was when the city started noticing that the locks were getting cut off of the meter in front of his residence,” said Moss. Holz “somehow fashioned a pipe and rebuilt the connection ... without the meter,” he added.

After Holz’s house was reconnected to the city water supply the following summer, the scenario repeated itself, Moss said.

“The city goes back out to the house after they restored water service at the place,” Moss recounted. “He didn’t pay the bill, they shut it off again, he did the same thing.”

After that, Holz was arrested and charged with criminal mischief. He was arraigned in August 2013, court records show.

This month, on June 5, a Northwest Natural Gas Co. employee found that Holz had effectively disabled the gas meter reader at his home, Moss said.

“He was tampering with the meter in an attempt to disable the meter and allow gas to flow freely into the home without going through the meter,” said Moss, adding, “Apparently, he had enough knowledge of what to do with it to cause it to not register the gas usage.”

Tampering with a gas meter is dangerous, Moss warned.

“I think we’re fortunate that this instance didn’t turn into something that caused an explosion or fire,” he said.

Holz has yet to be arraigned on charges stemming from the alleged gas meter incident. He has pleaded not guilty to the criminal mischief charge from last year.

The St. Helens Police Department said Holz stole $1,692 worth of natural gas and caused $552 in damage in the latest incident.

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