This sign on the wall of the men’s room in the visitor’s center at the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park in Homosassa Springs Florida on May 26, 2014, was my first inkling that the theft of ammonia balls from urinals was such an issue in Florida that the Scott Administration had to take special steps to curtail the thievery. After calling the Governor’s office and leaving five voice mails requesting information on the issue, and then being hung up on by a receptionist after I called a sixth time I decided to write to the Governor directly to get his learned input on the issue and to offer some suggestions on who the culprits might be and how to catch them. That letter follows
May 31, 2014
Governor Rick Scott
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0001
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0001
Re: Theft of urinal balls from State lands
On Monday May 26, 2014 I stopped in at the Homosassa Springs State Park in Homosassa Springs and while in the visitor center I had occasion to use the men’s room. While relieving myself at the one urinal in the men’s room I casually glanced up and looked at the wall. As you know, being male and having used men’s rooms on occasion, the walls in men’s rooms are usually blank and uninspiring affairs. However the wall in the men’s room at Homosassa Springs State Park was not. On that wall, in plain sight (I guess that was the point) was a sign printed out from a State computer admonishing all males of any height and age to be certain that they did not steal urinal balls from the urinal. I took a picture of the sign and have attached it for your edification.
It was not until last Monday that I had any inkling that urinal ball theft was such a problem that it would have to be pointed out to the pissing public. Still, I’m elated to see that the Scott Administration finds this issue of such import that you have taken the bold step of warning wayward pissers that they should not be ripping off state-purchased urinal balls. I have visited each of the state parks in Florida a minimum of six times now but apparently only Homosassa Springs State Park has been struck by urinal ball bandits.
Further research into this issue reveals that urinal ball theft is becoming a nationwide problem. In fact just three days ago there was an incident in Alabama where the police arrested two perpetrators for grand theft urinal balls near Birmingham. In that instance the perpetrators struck at five area restaurants and were so brazen that they also stole components of the actual toilets in addition to the urinal balls themselves. The story from the Decatur (AL) News tells the story here:
Apparently theft of urinal balls has now reached near epidemic proportions as far north as New York City. The following tells the sad story there:
On April 1st  the Parks Department discovered that thieves had stolen plumbing from the comfort station in Franz Siegel Park in the Bronx. The bathrooms have been out-of-service since. Last Saturday hundreds of ballplayers as well as friends and families were forced to find other places to relieve themselves. ”We have to go in the bushes,” said a member of the Canabacoa ball club playing on the poorly maintained fields. “We’re used to it.” According to the Parks Department, 4 flush valves (approximate value $500 each) were stolen. The agency replaced the valves this week and they should be open today.
There are other incidents of grand theft urinal ball from as far west as Houston where locals have described the incidents as being of “epidemic” proportions. The reason for all of these thefts is to recover metal contained in the balls for sale as scrap metal – something I had no idea existed until I began researching this issue.
Immediately after leaving the men’s room at Homosassa Springs I phoned your office to find out what, aside from putting signs on a men’s room wall, the Scott Administration was doing to address this growing issue, however being Memorial Day your office was closed. Throughout the day last Monday I called and left 5 voice mail messages asking for someone to call back so I could learn how the Florida public could help the Scott Administration to wipe out urinal ball theft on public lands. Nobody ever returned my calls and when I called your office again on Wednesday this week and explained my concerns, the smarmy receptionist who took my call hung up on me.
Urinal balls cost about $4.35 a ball. You can buy them in packets of 24 on Amazon.com for $105. Given the apparent seriousness of this issue I think I might know where you could start looking for find the perpetrators and I wanted to pass on that information to you and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (and maybe the Florida Park Service police). Given that you and the legislature have seen fit to not provide underpaid Florida state employees with a raise in salary for a minimum of 8 years now, my guess is that the urinal ball thieves are not casual visitors like me but in fact cash-strapped State employees trying simply to make ends meet.
If I was you I would set up a surveillance camera in the men’s room and watch to see who might be pilfering those little aromatic balls of scrap metal. That or you could post one of your underpaid state employees by the door of the men’s room in the visitor center and have that person sniff the hands of every potential culprit who leaves the rest room. I’d especially focus on people who hide their hands in their pockets and look down at the floor as they leave.
As a concerned Florida citizen I wanted to bring this issue to the attention of the top decision maker in the state. In the end, I think this issue exists because state employees would prefer to piss on you personally, but lacking that ability they decided to pilfer your smelly balls instead.