Philadelphia, one of the cities hit by a wave of manhole cover thefts, is fighting back. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that city workers are chaining the covers to prevent easy theft. They bolt the chains to the innards of the drains and batter the top bolt with a hammer so a wrench no longer fits into them.
With prices for scrap metal soaring, the covers have been disappearing at the rate of 10 or 12 a night. Since April 2007, when the epidemic started, 2,500 covers have been stolen – a rate of about 2,000 a year. Before that, the norm was 100 a year, max. They get about $6 per cover, based on one dealer’s estimate. The small return makes officials think that drug addicts may be responsible for many of the thefts. In two incidents last spring, a 12-year-old girl and a boy on his way to school fell into open holes and were injured. One scrap dealer said: “This city has an intense drug problem, and that’s what’s fueling this.”