Wake Forest Police say thieves are responsible for stealing as many as 16 storm drain grates this weekend in the St. Andrews Plantation, Stonegate and Caveness Farms subdivisions.
The grates, which weigh over 100 pounds each, cover drains that often have a drop of more than 10 feet.
When a storm drain cover is stolen it leaves a hole that would be easy for children, animals or even grown adults to fall in to. Officials are also concerned that motorists pulling over could damage their vehicles by driving into an uncovered storm drain. Think about it like the worst pothole you’ve ever hit.
Although the storm drains only fetch $15-20, if that, when sold for scrap metal, replacing the grates costs the town hundreds of dollars each.
But with such a low residual value, one possibility is the true value of the missing grates is for resale to unsuspecting developers. Developers would have no idea if the grates were stolen and if someone offered to sell them storm grates at half of what they normally paid, they’d think that was a smart way to save money, not realizing they were stolen.
Last year a series of manhole covers went missing in New York City and in that case residents didn’t pay much attention to the their who was wearing a reflective vest and work clothes. Witnesses said he looked like he was just working however it was odd he was using a car jack to remove the manhole covers.
But this is a crime that is happening all over the U.S. Here is a video of some guys in a truck stealing a storm grate.
Even in Raleigh this has been a problem. The Raleigh Police Department arrested a suspect in October who scrapped more than 20 stolen storm grates.
Wake Forest crews are using cones to identify the open storm drains out of concern for public safety and will replace the missing grates as fast as possible. In the meantime, residents are urged not to move or disturb the cones.
Anyone who witnesses someone attempting to remove a storm drain grate is encouraged to call the Wake Forest Police Department at 919-554-6150. You can remain anonymous if you want.
Update December 16, 2013
Wake Forest Police now say they are investigating over 60 storm drain grate thefts from several Wake Forest subdivisions, including St. Andrews Plantation, Stonegate, Caveness Farms and Bowling Green.