Since Monday morning, public works crews in Wood River started noticing missing storm drain grates. Each day, crews (and sometimes residents) were noticing the large, gaping holes left behind. As of Thursday, the city is missing 16 storm drain grates and one manhole cover.
Steve Palen, the city's public works director, says the total price tag of replacing all of them is nearing $2,000.
Palen suspects the crook (or crooks) are taking the metal in the nighttime hours - when there are fewer cars on the street. At one busy intersection (111 and Hawthorne), five storm grates were taken this week.
Police believe the thief (or thieves) are picking up the iron grates to sell as scrap metal. Wood River officers put local scrap yards on notice, but don't have any suspects right now.
Each grate weights around 40 pounds. A manhole cover weights at least 100 pounds.
The grates and the manhole cover are not tied down or bolted down. The items are also not marked with a stamp showing that they are the property of Wood River. The city is now looking at options to prevent thefts like this in the future.