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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 11:32 GMT
Australian drought prompts water theft
Severe drought across Australia has provoked a new kind of crime - water theft.

Queensland's Natural Resources minister, Stephen Robertson, says state authorities are investigating 146 cases.

He told the BBC that some farmers are tampering with water meters to take more water than they are entitled to.

Others are buying water that has been pumped illegally from rivers and creeks into tankers.

Mr Robertson said people breaching the state's water laws face fines of up to US$70,000.

He also stressed that in times of drought, stealing water was - as he put it - stealing from your mate.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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