A plant hire company must pay more than £6,500 as Thames Water’s crackdown against those who illegally tap into supplies and steal water continues.

McFen Plant Limited admitted six charges under the Water Industry Act 1991 at Bexley Magistrates’ Court.

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The company was caught on two occasions using unlicensed and unauthorised standpipes to take water from the network when filling a road sweeper.

McFen were spotted twice, once at the Castle Hill development in Swanscombe last August and later near Rennie Drive in Dartford in September, using the wrong equipment.

This was despite already being given a warning by Thames Water for doing the same thing.

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Thames Water says any organisation taking water from the network must use an approved water company standpipe so the amount taken can be measured.

Investigator Steve Johnston said: "This result should send out an important message that stealing water is not acceptable.

"Thames Water works around the clock to cut leakage and asks customers to do the same so it’s not fair for the likes of McFen to just take water like this.

"We’ll always look to work with companies to help them comply with the law but where lessons are not learnt we will take stronger action."

As well as being fined £2,900 for the offences, McFen was ordered to pay £3,580 in costs and a £60 victim surcharge, costing it a total of £6,540.

A spokesman for Thames Water also said that hundreds of thousands of litres are lost each day as a result of individuals and companies illegally connecting into the network, with everything they take being classed as leakage.