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Science & Technology

Tom Selleck Accused Of Stealing Water For California Ranch

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Now we bring you the story of an investigation. Cue the "Magnum, P.I." music...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAGNUM, P.I. THEME")

MCEVERS: ...Because yes, this involves the famously mustachioed star of the '80s series, Tom Selleck.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Over a two-year period, trucks have been taking water from a hydrant outside Los Angeles to a sprawling property in Hidden Valley.

MATT HAMILTON: Mr. Selleck, for the past three decades, has lived on a 60-acre ranch there, which includes a home, a farm and animal area.

SIEGEL: And as Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Hamilton explains, all those features on the Selleck estate need one precious commodity - water.

HAMILTON: Here in California, we're in the fourth year of a pretty terrible drought. Statewide, everyone's under restrictions to curb their water usage.

MCEVERS: And instead of curbing his usage, Mr. Selleck is accused of stealing water from a neighboring district. The Calleguas Municipal Water District became so frustrated it hired its own private investigator to follow the mysterious trucks.

SIEGEL: Thomas Magnum knows how that goes.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MAGNUM, P.I.")

TOM SELLECK: (As Thomas Magnum) So I'm there to investigate. That's what investigators do. You understand?

SIEGEL: OK. Back to the real-life drama. This water district actually hires its own P.I. Here's reporter Matt Hamilton again.

HAMILTON: This private investigator would see the same truck, same license plate. And then within 20 minutes, that truck would pull up to the estate owned by Tom Selleck and his wife.

MCEVERS: After cease and desist letters went unanswered, this week the district filed an official suit against the Sellecks. Eric Bergh is the resource manager for the water district.

ERIC BERGH: The bottom line, as far as we're concerned, is we want any activity along these lines to stop.

SIEGEL: As for Tom Selleck, he has not responded to the allegations, and our request to his publicist has gone unanswered.

MCEVERS: In addition to demanding an end to the water deliveries, the Calleguas Municipal Water District is also asking Selleck to pay $22,000 in damages.

SIEGEL: Which, it turns out, is the cost of hiring a private investigator to investigate Magnum, P.I. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.