Tom Selleck has long been notorious for hoarding the nation’s Hawaiian prints and little ladies, but this week it was revealed he’s also been selfishly stockpiling thousands of gallons of water—even amid California’s debilitating drought. In a lawsuit filed Monday, Selleck was accused of regularly sending a white truck to the same fire hydrant in Thousand Oaks over the course of several years, where it would fill its tanker, then haul the purloined water back to Selleck’s ranch in a completely different district. There, Selleck would use the water to nourish his avocado farm, as well as moisturize the bristles of a mustache that might otherwise grow stiff and unkempt in the unforgiving summer air.
For many, keeping America supplied with famous Tom Selleck avocados and inspired with iconic Tom Selleck facial hair may fall under the sort of extenuating circumstance that supersedes California’s urgent call to cut water use by 25 percent. But the Callegulas Municipal Water District didn’t see it that way. The L.A. Times reports that the department spent nearly $22,000 to hire a private investigator to tail Selleck’s truck and prove that he was behind the water theft, in what would have made for the dullest Magnum P.I. episode ever. (Even the one where Magnum takes in a teenage foster girl and trains her for his junior basketball team.)
After sending a cease-and-desist letter to Selleck, in which it confirmed it was well aware that Selleck had unlawfully taken its water on at least a dozen separate occasions—a letter that Selleck continued to ignore, even as the drought worsened—the district filed its lawsuit, seeking an injunction and reimbursement for the P.I. expenses. And while law enforcement officials (and presumed Blue Bloods fans) said they were unable to establish that Selleck had actually committed any crime, the actor decided to own up anyway.
NBC reports that Selleck has today reached an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount—though presumably it’s measured in dollars, not in the precious, life-giving water that Selleck continues to hoard and mete out to desperate Californians, according to the whims of his mercy. But no doubt many are wishing right now that they could be Tom Selleck’s avocado, if just for a day.
UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times has posted a brief interview with Jay Spurgin, director of public works for Thousand Oaks. Spurgin reports that the hydrant in question was outfitted with a city-approved water meter in August of 2013, paid for by Thousand Oaks-based construction company Burns Pacific Construction, Inc. The meter gave the company the right to use and sell water from the hydrant, provided they continued to pay the water bill for what they used.
The Times says it can’t find evidence either way about whether Selleck had an arrangement with Burns Pacific to purchase their water; it’s possible that he and his employees got as bored as the rest of us when asked to investigate California water law. But in any case, the water was almost certainly paid for by the company, since they would have been billed automatically for any usage of the hydrant. (At least, presumably; no one from Burns Pacific would apparently comment on the story.) It’s not clear why Selleck settled out of court if there wasn’t evidence that he was actually in the wrong, but it’s possible he just didn’t want to go through the public shame of being seen as a water thief, hounded by the common folk, mouths too pitifully dry to even muster some spit.