Thursday, Apr 19, 2018
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Police & Fire

Toledo sewer grates grabbed


Sewer department foreman Bill Wiciak steps between sewer grates. About 122 such grates have been plucked from city streets, many in West Toledo, during the last four months.


Some of Toledo s deepest potholes aren t caused by the weather.

According to police, they re probably caused by two guys in a pickup looking to put some coin in their pockets.

About 122 sewer grates have been plucked from city streets, many in West Toledo, during the last four months, including two yesterday.

The thefts send city workers to the sites of the uncovered, curbside spots to install other grates or mark them with barrels or tape so people and vehicles don t fall into the holes before new grates are installed.

A city worker told police a child 6 or 7 years old could slip into the hole and never recover. If you hit it with a car, it will tear a tire off the vehicle, Detective Victoria Woodard said.

The theft of the 40-to-50-pound pieces of black cast iron or steel cost the city about $6,500, officials said.

Scrap yards have told police and city workers they don t take the grates. They told investigators if other items of that nature were to come in, they would net about $5 based on metal, size, and weight.

[The suspects] sneak them in there. Usually, that s how they re doing it, if they re doing it, said Chuck Campbell, the city s manager of sewer and drainage services. He said his department has talked with the scrap yards about the matter, and is investi gating how other cities deal with the problem.

Our main concern here is public safety. Heaven forbid a car or pedestrian [should] hit one of those, Mr. Campbell said.

Police were told the holes the grates cover are eight to 10 feet deep and have about five feet of water in them, Detective Woodard said.

City Law Director Barb Herring said no claims of injuries or damages have been reported.

Investigators believe they know who is stealing the grates but don t have enough evidence to charge them. They believe the suspects are two black males in a black Jeep Comanche pickup with a partial Ohio license plate of 3335. Other vehicle descriptions include a black Jeep Cherokee and a blue pickup.

Police and city workers ask that citizens who see people taking the grates report the description of the suspects and their vehicle and license plate.

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