THIEVES have stolen water from at least half a dozen homes, private bores and council outlets in the Liverpool Plains.
It's an opportunistic crime that often isn't discovered until residents receive their water bills, Liverpool Plains Shire Council mayor Andrew Hope said.
"It's a double-whammy, these people have to pay for water they didn't receive and it's putting people under duress," he said.
"It's a pretty poor act by some very unscrupulous individuals.
"It shouldn't be going on in drought, or at any time."
Meter readings have revealed unusual amounts of town water being used in public places like the showground and parks.
Farmers have reported water theft from private bores, which has effects on water allocations for feeding stock.
Water theft is a crime and residents who have proof water is being taken from their meter are urged to report it to police.
The council has measures in place for residents experiencing financial distress, and Cr Hope said he would prefer those in need contact the council rather than steal water.
"We are noticing it's happening more frequently and we are expecting with things getting tougher," he said.
"Obviously people are running out of water and through desperation these things could get worse.
"If you're a pensioner and you got a huge bill it would be extremely difficult to deal with."
Residents should be diligent with hoses and report any suspicious behaviour.
Anti-vandal hoses are available that require a four-way key to use.