Thieves stealing manhole covers in New York City, utility says

NEW YORK Thu May 3, 2012 4:05pm EDT

A New York City police officer stands guard near the United Nations building in New York September 24, 2007. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

A New York City police officer stands guard near the United Nations building in New York September 24, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

Related Topics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Manhole covers are being stolen from the streets of New York City, leaving dangerous holes in the roads and sidewalks, authorities said on Thursday.

More than 30 manhole covers have been stolen in the city's Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx boroughs since early March, presumably by thieves selling them for scrap metal, said a spokesman for the Con Edison utility company.

"Stealing manhole covers is dangerous," said Milovan Blair, Con Edison's vice president for Brooklyn-Queens Electric Operations. "Anyone who steals these covers creates a serious hazard for pedestrians and motorists."

Witnesses have reported seeing thieves wearing utility-style clothing but without official insignia prying open covers with a car jack, loading them onto pickup trucks and driving away, Con Edison said in a statement.

Manhole covers are stolen on occasion but the recent thefts are a marked increase, said Con Edison spokesman Michael Clendenin.

The covers are made of cast iron or composite materials and can weigh as much as 300 pounds (136 kg), he said. The high price of metals make them attractive to sell as scrap.

(Editing By Ellen Wulfhorst, Greg McCune and Eric Beech)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (3)
ectogestator wrote:
It’s okay to buy stolen property? No laws against that? Hmmm, might want to take this up in the state legislature.

May 03, 2012 4:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
jhvance wrote:
I’ve seen this same sort of thing happen in a number of FSU (former Soviet Union) countries which fell into hard economic times afterwards and subsequently procured World Bank funding for basic infrastructure rehabilitation when I worked on several of those projects. Thieves steal the cast-iron manholes, break them into pieces and then sell the pieces as scrap to scrap-metal dealers for whatever they can get, and the dealers wouldn’t ask too many questions. They will also steal traffic signs and their metal poles (or even non-working traffic signal masts and equipment), metal guardrails and old electrical or telephone wiring. When there’s no work and no income and someone needs to put food on the table for their family or into their own belly, desperation and its rationale tends to overcome qualms toward theft of community property, even if it results in a dangerous streetscape. I thought there were stronger legal requirements for scrap-metal dealers in most US States and cities to verify the source of such obvious municipal or utility infrastructure components (even when tendered in pieces), but guess the hard times of the past few years for everyone may have overcome such obligations.

May 04, 2012 3:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JoePublic wrote:
When it is brought in by the truckload and sold by the ton there is not much recyclers can do about verifying the origin or ownership of every piece of scrap metal that rolls across their scales. It would paralyze the industry.

May 09, 2012 5:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus