A ROAD sweeping company illegally tapped into Thames Water on 'multiple occasions'.

JM Clark Ltd vehicles were ordered to pay more than £6,000 after they were seen, sometimes at the same spot, using unauthorised equipment to take water in Arborfield Green.

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The company pleaded guilty to six offences under the Water Industry Act 1991 at Reading Magistrates' Court, and was told to pay £6,300.

Organisations which need to connect to the water network within the Thames Water region must pay for a licence and use one of the company's unique blue standpipes.

Failure to do so means any water taken cannot be measured so is classed as leakage.

It is estimated that Thames Water loses thousands of litres every day as a result of illegal connections.

On top of that, it gives the offenders an unfair advantage over others who are abiding by the law.

Stephen Johnston, a Thames Water investigator, said: "We've been working to help JM Clark for a number of years after catching them on previous occasions.

"However, the company did not learn and continued to offend so we had no choice but to take matters further.

"I hope the fine sends out a message that this is something we take incredibly seriously and we'll look to take action against those who do not operate within the law."

JM Clark, based in Erith, South East London, was fined £3,000 and also told to pay £3,225 in costs as well as a victim surcharge of £75.

Anyone who suspects water is being stolen from the network is asked to contact Thames Water.

To report water network abuse, email illegalconnections@thameswater.co.uk or call customer service on 0800 980 8800.

For more information about obtaining Thames Water standpipes visit: www.developers.thameswater.co.uk/domestic-and-small-commercial/water-supply/standpipes.